Apr 30, 2020 - Economy

U.S. marriage rate sinks to record low

A couple taking wedding photos in Central Park on April 25.

A couple taking wedding photos in Central Park on April 25. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

The U.S. marriage rate fell by 6% in 2018 to only 6.5 new unions for every 1,000 people, per a report from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

Why it matters: It's the lowest rate recorded since the federal government began collecting data in 1867, according to the Wall Street Journal.

  • Marriage is correlated with a number of positive health outcomes, including longer lives and fewer strokes and heart attacks, according to Harvard Medical School.

What's happening: More people are forming households without marrying.

  • Declining religious observance and growing acceptance of unmarried households are also playing a role.

By the numbers: Around half of American adults lived with a spouse in 2019. About seven in 10 lived with a spouse in 1970.

  • Around 7% lived with a partner last year — up from less than 1% in 1970.

What's next: The fallout from the coronavirus pandemic may further discourage marriage as the virus disrupts everyday life and produces economic instability.

Go deeper: Coronavirus reshapes American families

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