First Marriage Rate in the U.S., 2018

Family Profile No. 20, 01
Author: Valerie Schweizer

The overall marriage rate (number of marriages per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15 and older) in the United States began to decline in 1970 but has remained stable since 2010 (FP-19-22). In 2018, the overall marriage rate was 31.3 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women (FP-19-22). However, the overall marriage rate includes both first and remarriages. Since nearly one-third of marriages are higher order marriages (FP-12-21), it is important to examine first marriage trends and differentials separately. This family profile is an update to FP-18-14, FP-16-18, FP-14-08, FP-11-12, and FP-10-05.

Trends in First Marriage Rate

  • The first marriage rate experienced a decline from 49.8 first marriages in 2008 to 43.1 in 2013.
    • It increased to 45.3 in 2014 and has remained relatively unchanged since then, though it dropped slightly in 2018 to 44.5.
  • An estimated 1,561,249 women entered a first marriage in 2018.

Figure 1. First Marriage Rate for Women Aged 18 and Older, 2008-2018

line chart showing data Figure 1. First Marriage Rate for Women Aged 18 and Older, 2008-2018
Source: NCFMR analyses of the American Community Survey 1-yr. est., 2008-2018
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The first marriage rate in 2008 was 49.8 first marriages per 1,000 never married women. Ten years later—in 2018—it had dropped to 44.5 first marriages per 1,000 never married women.

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First Marriage Rate by Race and Ethnicity

  • In 2018, the first marriage rate was highest among Asian women (62.6).
    • Black women experienced the lowest first marriage rate (21.3) of these racial/ethnic groups.
    • Among Hispanics, those who were foreign-born had a higher first marriage rate (57.0) than native-born Hispanics (39.0).

Figure 2. First Marriage Rate for Women Aged 18 and Older by Race, 2018

teal bar chart showing Figure 2. First Marriage Rate for Women Aged 18 and Older by Race, 2018
Source: NCFMR analyses of the American Community Survey 1-yr. est., 2018

First Marriage Rate by Educational Attainment

  • Women with college degrees had substantially higher first marriage rates than women without college degrees.
    • Those with a Bachelor’s degree had about 65.6 first marriages and those with a Master’s or higher had about 78.2 first marriages per 1,000 never-married women.
  • The first marriage rate was fairly similar among women with a high school degree (32.9) or some college education (38.8).
  • The lowest first marriage rate was among women with less than a high school education (27.3).

Figure 3. First Marriage Rate for Women Aged 18 and Older by Education, 2018

teal bar chart showing Figure 3. First Marriage Rate for Women Aged 18 and Older by Education, 2018
Source: NCFMR analyses of the American Community Survey 1-yr. est., 2018
References
  • Allred, C. (2019). Marriage rate in the U.S.: Geographic variation, 2017. Family Profiles, FP-18-20. Bowling Green, OH: National Center for Family & Marriage Research. https://doi.org/10.25035/ncfmr/fp-18-20
  • Anderson, L. R. (2016). First marriage rate in the U.S., 2014. Family Profiles, FP-16-18. Bowling Green, OH: National Center for Family & Marriage Research. https://www.bgsu.edu/ncfmr/resources/data/family-profiles/anderson-first-marriage-rate-2014-fp-16-18.html
  • Payne, K. K. & Gibbs, L. (2011). First marriage rate in the U.S., 2010. Family Profiles, FP-11-12. Bowling Green, OH: National Center for Family & Marriage Research. http://www.bgsu.edu/content/dam/BGSU/college-of-arts-and-sciences/NCFMR/documents/FP/FP-11-12.pdf
  • Payne, K. K. (2010). Rate of first marriage in the U.S., 2008. Family Profiles, FP-10-05. Bowling Green, OH: National Center for Family & Marriage Research. http://www.bgsu.edu/content/dam/BGSU/college-of-arts-and-sciences/NCFMR/documents/FP/Fp-10-05.pdf
  • Stykes, B., Payne, K. K., & Gibbs, L. (2014). First marriage rate in the U.S., 2012. Family Profiles, FP-14-08. Bowling Green, OH: National Center for Family & Marriage Research. http://www.bgsu.edu/content/dam/BGSU/college-of-arts-and-sciences/NCFMR/documents/FP/FP-14-08-marriage-rate2012.pdf
Suggested Citation
  • Schweizer, V. (2020). First marriage rate in the U.S., 2018. Family Profiles, FP-20-01. Bowling Green, OH: National Center for Family & Marriage Research. https://doi.org/10.25035/ncfmr/fp-20-01  

This project is supported with assistance from Bowling Green State University. From 2007 to 2013, support was also provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s) and should not be construed as representing the opinions or policy of any agency of the state or federal government.