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The Evolving Landscape of Marriage Rates in the United States





Overview of Trends and Projections (2023-2028)

As we move through the 21st century, the concept and rates of marriage in the United States are undergoing significant transformations. The year 2023 has been marked by an estimated value of 10.3 marriages per 1,000 people, reflecting a compound growth rate of 9.60% from 2018. However, projections suggest a shift, with an anticipated decrease to 8.7 marriages per 1,000 people by 2028, equating to a compound decline of -3.18%.


Current Dynamics Influencing Marriage Rates

The persistent decline in marriage rates since the mid-1980s can be attributed to a variety of social and economic factors. One notable trend is the rise in unmarried cohabitation, which has become a more common lifestyle choice. Additionally, the increasing financial independence of women, marked by a rise in women's wages relative to men's, has influenced attitudes towards marriage.


Changing public sentiments and demographic shifts are also reshaping the landscape of marriage. The use of contraceptives, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has seen a substantial increase since 1985, affecting family planning decisions. Furthermore, Pew Research Center data reveals rapidly evolving opinions on marriage, particularly among younger generations who do not view marriage in the same traditional sense as their predecessors. This generational shift is evident in the growing percentage of adults who have never married, reaching a record high of 20.0%, especially among young adults aged 25 to 34.


Divorce rates have also contributed to the decline in marriage rates, indicating a higher rate of exit from marriage.


Economic Factors and the Pandemic's Impact

Economic uncertainty, especially during recessions, tends to suppress marriage rates. This was exemplified in 2009 with a significant 4.2% decline. Post-recession years saw a temporary stabilization in marriage rates as delayed marriages due to economic uncertainty and wedding expenses finally took place.


The COVID-19 pandemic beginning in 2020 further impacted marriage rates, leading to a 16.4% decline due to business closures, travel restrictions, and social distancing mandates. Many couples postponed their weddings to 2021, with the hope that vaccine availability and lifting of restrictions would allow for rescheduled celebrations.


Future Outlook

Looking ahead, IBISWorld forecasts a continued decline in marriage rates over the next five years to 2028. This trend is likely to be influenced by the continued rise in unmarried cohabitation and changing demographic trends. For instance, the rate of never-married Caucasians doubled from 1960 to 2012, while the rate for African Americans aged 25 and older rose by 36.0%. Additionally, the changing dynamics in labor force participation, particularly among men, may also impact marriage rates.


In conclusion, the marriage rate in the United States is a reflection of evolving social norms, economic conditions, and demographic changes. While the rate is projected to decline in the coming years, these trends offer insights into the shifting landscape of personal and societal choices regarding marriage.


Source: IBISWorld, MMCG

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