Marriage & Family Statistics

Here are some marriage statistics, family statistics, divorce statistics, and marriage prepartation statistics. 

Marriage Statistics

  • 85% of the U.S. population will marry at least once. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)
  • Age at marriage has been increasing for the past four decades. In 1960, the median age for a first marriage was 22.8 years for men and 20.3 for women. In 2005 the median age for first marriage was 27 years for men and 26 years for women. (Popenoe & Whitehead, 2004)
  • The percentage of adults who are married has steadily declined. In 1970, 68% of adults were married; 1n 1980 66%; in 1990, 62%; and about 60% in 2000. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)
  • Married people live longer than unmarried or divorced people. Nonmarried women have 50% higher mortality rates than married women and nonmarried men have a 250% higher rate than married men. (Waite & Gallagher, 2000)
  • Married people are happier than single, widowed, or cohabiting people. About 40% of married people report being very happy with their lives, whereas only 18% of divorced people, 15% of separated people, and only 22% of widowed and 22% of cohabiting people report being very happy. (Waite & Gallagher, 2000)
  • Married people have more sex and a better quality sexual relationship than do single, divorced or cohabiting individuals. (Waite & Gallagher, 2000)
  • Married people are more successful in their careers, earn more, and have more wealth than single, divorced or cohabiting individuals. (Waite & Gallagher, 2000; Antonovics & Town, 2004)
  • Children from homes where the parents are married tend to be more academically successful, more emotionally stable, and more often assume leadership roles. (Waite & Gallagher, 2000; Manning & Lamb, 2003)
  • Adolescents living with both biological parents exhibit lower levels of problem behavior. (Carlson, 2006)


  • Single-parent families rose to an all-time high of 37% of families in 2005. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)
  • 30% of all children in the U.S. will be in a stepfamily at some point in their life. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)
  • Cohabiting before marriage is related to more frequent arguments during marriage and a greater perceived risk of separation and divorce. (Hill & Evans, 2006)
  • Couples who cohabit before remarriage report lower levels of happiness in their marriage than remarried couples who did not cohabit. (Xu, Hudspeth & Bartkowsk, 2006)

Divorce Statistics

  • In 2005 there were 2.3 million marriages and 1.2 million divorces. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)
  • Almost 20 million Americans (9.9% of the U.S. population) are currently divorced. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)
  • About 50% of marriages today will end in a divorce. Statistically, 40% of first marriages, 60% of second, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)
  • About 75% of individuals who divorce will eventually remarry. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)
  • After 10 years of marriage, it is predicted that only 25% of couples will still be happily married (Glenn,1996)
  • More than 1 million children are affected by divorce each year. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)
  • Women are more likely than men to file for divorce. (Popenoe & Whitehead, 2005)


  • Premarital preparation can reduce divorce rate by 30%. (Stanley, Amato, Johnson & Markman,2006)
  • Recent research combining information from 11 experimental studies found significant differences favoring couples who received premarital education. There was a 79% improvement in all marital outcomes compared to couples who did not receive premarital education. (Carroll & Doherty, 2003)
  • Couples who participate in a premarital program (like PREPARE/ENRICH) significantly increased their couple satisfaction. In a recent outcome study, couples improved in 10 out of 13 relationship categories. (Knutson & Olson, 2003)


  • A large national sample (n=21,501) of married couples who completed a couple inventory (ENRICH) found the top five categories most predictive of marital happiness were: Communication, Flexibility, Couple Closeness, Personality
    Compatibility and Conflict Skills (Olson & Olson, 2000)
  • Researchers have identified key characteristics of healthy families that are usually missing from problem families. They include: Connectedness, Flexibility, Social and economic resources, Clarity, Open emotional expression, Positive outlook and Spirituality. (Walsh, 1998)
  • Teens that frequently eat dinner with their families are less likely to smoke, drink or use drugs. (The National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 2005)
  • Closeness with either a biological or step-father is associated with a decrease in the likelihood that an adolescent boy will expect someday to divorce. (Risch, Jodi & Eccles, 2004)
  • Religious attendance is positively correlated with higher G.P.A.’s for teens. (Fagen, 2006)
  • Couples who agree on spiritual beliefs report significantly higher marital satisfaction and couple closeness than couples who are low on spiritual agreement. (Larson & Olson, 2004).

Antonovics, K. & Town, R. (2004). Are all the good men married?
Uncovering the sources of the marital wage premium. American Economic Review, 94, 317-321.
Carlson, M.J. (2006). Family structure, father involvement and
adolescent behavioral outcomes.  Journal of Marriage and the Family, 68 (1), 137-154.
Carroll, J.S. & Doherty, W.J. (2003). Evaluating the effectiveness of
premarital prevention programs: A meta-analytic review of outcome research. Family Relations, 52, 105-118.
Fagen, P. (2006). A portrait of family and religion in America: Key
outcomes for the common good. Washington, DC: The Heritage Foundation.
Glenn, N. D. (1996). Values, attitudes, and the state of marriage. In
D. Popenoe, J.B. Elshtain & D. Blankenhorm (Eds.), Promises to keep (pp. 15-33). Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
Hill, J. & Evans, S.G. (2006). Effects of cohabitation length on personal
and relational wellbeing.  Alabama Policy Institute, Vol. API Study, 1-13.
Larson, P.J. & Olson, D.H. (2004). Spiritual beliefs and marriage: A
national survey based on ENRICH. The Family Psychologist, 20 (2), 4-8.
Manning, W.D. & Lamb, K.A. (2003). Adolescent well-being in
cohabiting, married, and single-parent families. Journal of marriage and family, 65 (4), 876-893.

Olson, D.H., & Olson, A.K. (2000). Empowering couples: Building on
your strengths.Minneapolis, MN: Life Innovations.
Popenoe, D. & Whitehead, B.D. (1999b). The state of our unions. New
Brunswick, NJ: National Marriage Project, Rutgers University.
Popenoe, D. & Whitehead, R.D. (2005). The state of our unions 2005.
 Piscataway, NJ: National Marriage Project, Rutgers University.
Risch, S.C., Jodi, K.M. & Eccles, J.S. (2004). Role of the father-
adolescent relationship in shaping adolescents’ attitudes. Journal
of Marriage and the Family, 66 (1), 46-58.
Stanley, S.M., Amato, P.R., Johnson, C.A., & Markman, H.J. (2006).
Premarital education, marital quality, and marital stability:
Findings from a large, random household survey. Journal of
Family Psychology, 20, 1, 117-126.
The importance of family dinners II (2005). The National Center of
Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. (2006). Statistical abstract of the United
States (122nd ed). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. (
Waite, L.J., & Gallagher, M. (2000). The case for marriage: Why
married people are happier, healthier, and better off financially. New York: Doubleday.
Walsh, F. (1998). Strengthening family resilience. New York: Guilford
Xu, X., Hudspeth, C.D. & Bartkowsk, J.P. (2006). The role of
cohabitation in remarriage. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68
(2), 261-274.