First vs Remarriage: Demographic Characteristics

Family Profile No. 19, 2020
Author: Valerie J. Schweizer    

In recent decades, rates of both first marriage and remarriage have declined (FP-20-01; FP-19-17). These trends can be partially attributed to the delay in first marriage formation with the median age at first marriage, now at record highs for women and men (FP-19-06). This profile uses data from the 2008 and 2018 American Community Survey 1-year estimates to investigate the proportions of currently married adults (men and women) in first marriages versus remarriages. We also examine variation in marriage order among currently married adults by age, education, and race/ethnicity for 2018. For a comparison of first marriage versus remarriage among women who married in the last year, see FP-19-08.

First Marriage vs. Remarriage  

  • The proportions of currently married adults in a first marriage and a remarriage remained stable since 2008.
    • Among all adults who were currently married in 2018, 77% were in a first marriage, and 23% were in a remarriage.

Figure 1. Currently Married Adults in a First Marriage and Remarriage, 2008 & 2018

2-color bar chart showing Currently Married Adults in a First Marriage and Remarriage, 2008 & 2018
Source: NCFMR analyses of ACS 2018 1-year estimates

Age

  • At every age group, the majority of currently married adults were in a first marriage.
  • The share of married adults in a remarriage increased with age.
    • Those aged 65+ had the largest share in a remarriage (31%), whereas those aged 18 to 24 had the smallest at only 2%.

Figure 2. Currently Married Adults in a First Marriage and Remarriage by Age, 2018

2-color bar chart showing Figure 2. Currently Married Adults in a First Marriage and Remarriage by Age, 2018
Source: NCFMR analyses of ACS 2018 1-year estimates

The proportions of currently married adults in a first marriage and a remarriage remained stable since 2008.  

Education

  • There was some variation in the share of currently married adults in a first marriage and remarriage by educational attainment.
  • Just over one in four individuals with either a high school diploma or some college were in remarriages (27%), the highest across educational groups.
  • Among those with at least a bachelor’s degree, less than one in five were in a remarriage (18%).

Figure 3. Currently Married Adults in a First Marriage and Remarriage by Education, 2018

2-color teal bar chart showing Figure 3. Currently Married Adults in a First Marriage and Remarriage by Education, 2018
Source: NCFMR analyses of ACS 2018 1-year estimates

Race/Ethnicity

  • Asians had the highest share in first marriages--90% of currently married Asians were in a first marriage.
  • Whites had the lowest share in first marriages (74%) and the highest share of remarriage (26%), followed closely by currently married Black adults (76% and 24%, respectively).
  • Hispanic and Other currently married adults had identical shares, with 82% in a first marriage and 18% in a remarriage.  

Figure 4. Currently Married Adults in a First Marriage and Remarriage by Race/Ethnicity, 2018

teal bar chart showing Figure 4. Currently Married Adults in a First Marriage and Remarriage by Race/Ethnicity, 2018
Source: NCFMR analyses of ACS 2018 1-year estimates
Data Source
  • U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey (ACS), One-Year Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS), 2018.
References
  • Payne, K. K. (2019). Median age at first marriage, 2017. Family Profiles, FP-19-06. Bowling Green, OH: National Center for Family & Marriage Research. https://doi.org/10.25035/ncfmr/fp-19-06
  • Schweizer, V. (2019). First marriage vs. remarriage in the U.S. Family Profiles, FP-19-08. Bowling Green, OH: National Center for Family & Marriage Research. https://doi.org/10.25035/ncfmr/fp-19-08
  • Schweizer, V. (2019). The retreat from remarriage, 1950-2017. Family Profiles, FP-19-17. Bowling Green, OH: National Center for Family & Marriage Research. https://doi.org/10.25035/ncfmr/fp-19-17
  • 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
Suggested Citation
  • Schweizer, V. J. (2020). First marriage vs. remarriage: Demographic characteristics, 2018. Family Profiles, FP-20-19. National Center for Family & Marriage Research. https://doi.org/10.25035/ncfmr/fp-20-19

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.