Most singles still want to marry

Published 02 August 2013  |  
(Photo: Martin Boulanger)

New research into attitudes to marriage in the US reveal that most single people still aspire to marry.  

The latest Gallup poll found that singles who wanted to marry far outnumber those who had no interest in it.  

When asked about their marital status, just over a fifth (21%) described themselves as 'never married and want to get married'.  This compared to just 5% who described themselves as 'never married and do not want to get married'. 

Just over half of those surveyed were currently married (54%) and a fifth had been previously married.  

"There are no Gallup trend data on this measure of desire to be married, so it is not known whether the percentage who don't want to marry was lower in previous years or decades. But 5% is a low absolute percentage, regardless of what it was in the past," Gallup said.

Figures from the Census Bureau show that the rate of marriage is declining in the US, down from 9.9 marriages per 1,000 Americans in 1987 to 6.8 in 2011.

These figures are backed up by research from the University of Maryland which found that the marriage rate per 1,000 unmarried women dropped from 90 in 1950 to just 31 in 2011.

Young people aged 18 to 34 were the most likely not to want to marry, at 9%, but even in this age group they were dwarfed by the number who had not yet married but wanted to, at 56%.

The never marrieds accounted for the largest group in the 18 to 34 age group.  Just over a quarter (28%) were currently married.

"This high level of interest in marriage suggests there is little widespread attitudinal aversion to first-time marriage among the nation's younger unmarried residents," Gallup said.

The poll findings also suggest financial security has an impact on people's decision to marry, with young Americans who do not have a college degree and those on lower incomes less likely to be married than those with college degrees and higher incomes.

Just over half (51%) of those with incomes of more than $75,000 were married, compared to a quarter of those earning between $30,000 and $75,000, and 19% of those on less than $30,000.

Despite not being married, singles on less than $30,000 who aspire to marry (66%) still outnumber more singles in the same income bracket who don't (8%).

Although most Americans are married or aspire to marry, the poll also found that marriage is becoming less important. While in 2006, over three-quarters (76%) agreed that marriage was very or somewhat important for a man and woman who plan to spend the rest of their lives together, this figure had fallen to 64% by 2013.

Similarly, 73% agreed in 2006 that marriage was very or somewhat important when a couple plan to have a child together, but this figure had also fallen to 64% by 2013.

Gallup said: "Fewer than six in 10 Americans who have never been married but want to be say it is important that a couple get married in these circumstances. This suggests that a sizable percentage of Americans who would like to get married still don't think it is important that they do so."

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