© Lindsay Soll 2003

An Introduction to Delayed Marriage

In the 1940s and 50s, women were expected to get married right out of high school and begin a family soon after. However, today, women are increasA husband and wife kissingly exploring other options for themselves. Marriage is no longer the only one.

Delaying marriage (pushing the age at marriage into the late 20s and higher) is an increasing trend in the United States today.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, populations with later mean ages at first marriage tend to be more urbanized, to have higher levels of educational attainment and to use family planning within marriage. Later marriage also permits "women to complete their educations, build labor force skills and develop career interests that compete with childbearing within marriage."

Some groups have a higher tendency to delay marriage than others, says Dr. Constance L. Shehan, a sociology professor at the University of Florida. says. Well-educated a bride and groom touch handsmen and women with careers are much more likely to postpone marriage. People in lower classes are the least likely to put off marriage. African American women are less likely than whites to be married at all, due to the lack of available men, she says.

The long-term trend in delaying marriage began as far back as 1900. The age at which men and women marry today is almost identical to the age at which they married in 1900, says Shehan. Over the 20th century, the age at first marriage declined somewhat, especially right around World War II.


History of Marriage



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