Monday, June 13, 2011

Let the wedding bells ring

Anyone who has ever glanced at a bridal magazine or received a wedding invitation knows that June is usually the hottest month for weddings. So in honor of all the happy couples, let's take a look at marriage statistics.

Not surprisingly, destination wedding locations have the highest marriage rates (per 1,000 population). The current rate (40.9) in Nevada is more than five times higher than the national average (6.8), and Hawaii rings in at more than double (17.9) the national average.

Some of the lowest rates, on the other hand, are in and around the nation's capitol. (With a decade of congressional infidelity scandals, the low marriage rate in D.C. is probably no surprise to readers.)

Marriage rates have been falling nationwide for the past decade, from 8.2 in 2000 to 6.8 in 2009 (data from the CDC). Falling marriage rates are part of a long-term trend toward delayed marriage. The average age at first marriage back in 1956 was only age 20 for women (age 22 for men) and has risen to age 26 for women (28 for men) today.

In marriage rates, Nevada declined the most, dropping from 72.2 in 2000 to 40.9 in 2009, and falling by more than 50 percent from a 1990 level of 99 marriages per 1,000 population. (Maybe being married by Elvis at a drive-through chapels is losing it's appeal?)

However, divorce rates are also falling. In fact, the number of "long-lasting" marriages is starting to increase. Divorce rates peaked in the years following mid-1970s changes in divorce laws, but then leveled off and fell slightly. Some of this can be attributed to lower marriage rates (fewer marriages likely lead to fewer divorces), but some is likely a result of people waiting longer to get married in the first place.

Image Credits:
Charts by author, with data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Photo courtesy of


  1. where did you get your information from on marriage statistics?

  2. Most data shown here are from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vital events data. There are links in the text (see red/pink text, above) to the original data sources for each fact.

    Let me know if that helps or if you need more info.


your insights?