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Marriage rates for people below 65 years old keep on going down every year. It seems to have reached a point of no return as there are no signs that it will recover. On one hand, as older people die, a new study foresees marriage rate dipping below 50 percent.
On the other hand, the percentage share of people who never married breaks a new record every year, Wendy Wang, the director of research at the Institute for Family Studies, said, KSHB reported. It has been a continuous decline for marriage since the 1960s, although the share of married older Americans slightly went up.
By delaying marriage, the chance of not getting married at all goes up, Wang said. It will explain why the percentage of people below 65 years old who never married jumped to the current 36 percent from 26 percent in 1990. She said the downward trend in that age group was driven by delayed marriage and more people who opt just to live in.
The boost in the share of elderly people who are married was mainly caused by older men living longer. Thus, the percentage share of people who were 65 years old and older who were widows dropped to less than one-fourth from more than one-third in 1990.
While overall divorce rate has gone down, since 1990, it has doubled for those above 55 and tripled for those above 65, Susan Brown, I-Fen Lin, and Krista Payne, demographers from the Bowling Green State University, said. Because divorce rates had stabilized in the past few decades and its comparatively small share is not close to the number of widowed older people, more old women are now married compared to the past, Wang said.
The statistics – which showed the continuous increase in the number of older married Americans in spite of rising divorce rates – show the importance of the increase in life expectancy for the group, Andrew Cherlin, the chairman of the Department of Sociology and the director of the Program on Social Policy at John Hopkins University, said.
Although more older Americans are married because their spouses are also alive, their propping up overall marriage rates will not last long if the current marriage trends continue, Wang, said. She forecast that in the long run, as the older generations pass away, the nation is headed to an age when marriage will no longer be the institution the majority of adults are in. The gap between the married and unmarried people will likely deepen in the future.
In 1960, those who were married stayed together for an average of 29 years between the 37 years when they were 18 through 55 years old. In 2015, the average went down to only 18 years, Stephanie Coontz, the director of research at the Council on Contemporary Families and a history professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, said.
The situation in the US is not much different in the UK where there were only 239,020 opposite-sex couples married in 2015. It was a record-low which represented a 3.4 decline in 2014 levels. Likewise, more older people are getting married, the Office for National Statistics, said.
In 2015, gay marriages accounted for 2.6 percent of all marriages, while religious ceremonies registered a long-term decline, accounting for only 26 percent of straight weddings and 0.7 percent of gay unions.
Nicola Haines, from the Vital Statistics Outputs Branch of the Office of National Statistics, confirmed that the marriage rates for opposite-sex couples hit their lowest level on record after a gradual long-term decline since the early 1970s, Daily Mail reported.
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No to same-sex marriage in Alabama
Meanwhile, 13 judges in Alabama have ceased marrying couples after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Because Roy Moore, the chief justice in Alabama, has` told local officials they were not bound to follow the decision of the federal court, the state’s marriage license system was thrown into chaos, National Public Radio reported.
Wes Allen, a local probate judge, explained that because of his belief that marriage is between and man and a woman as well as the biblical worldview, he refused to sign on a marriage license that he knew was not a marriage.
The counties prepared for lawsuits after it refused to grant marriage licenses, even for opposite-sex couples. However, none has, so far, been filed.
The metropolitan areas of Alabama, Birmingham and Montgomery remain open for business. However, in remote rural areas, it is more of a patchwork, forcing couples who want to marry to go elsewhere to secure a license, Eva Kendrick, the state director for the Human Rights Campaign, said.
Instead of traditional weddings, Republican state Senator Greg Albritton tried to change the system to a marriage contract which will free the probate judge from serving as the gatekeeper by order of the state who can and who cannot marry.