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Analysis finds remarriage rate down 40 percentcomment (0)

September 26, 2013


A new analysis of federal data provided exclusively to USA Today shows the United States’ remarriage rate has dropped 40 percent over the past 20 years.

“Pretty much everyone, regardless of age, is less likely to get remarried than in the past,” said sociologist Susan Brown, lead author of the analysis by the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

The analysis of data comparing 2011 with 1990 shows that in 2011, 29 of 1,000 divorced or widowed Americans remarried, down from 50 per 1,000 in 1990.

The remarriage rate has dipped for all ages, with the greatest drops among those younger than 35: a 54 percent decline among ages 20–24 and 40 percent for ages 25–34. Much of the drop is due to the rise of cohabitation and older ages for first marriage — almost age 27 for women and almost 29 for men.

A generation ago, cohabitation was often called “living in sin,” but that social taboo has faded. Unmarried couples of all ages are moving in together — 7.8 million, according to 2012 Census data. And 37 percent of cohabiters have been married before. Between 1990 and 2012, the percentage of unmarried couples living together more than doubled, from 5.1 percent to 11.3 percent.

New research does suggest those who have been divorced once are less likely to stay in an unsatisfying marriage a second time.

And many divorced people are hesitant to risk tying another knot.

Remarriage is “difficult and different” from first marriage, said relationship expert Maggie Scarf, a Yale University fellow. She conducted interviews with 80 remarried individuals to see how their marriages fared.

“In the first marriage, the couple has time alone to set up their own culture — the way they do things,” Scarf said. 

“But in the second marriage, you have a single parent who has been living alone with his or her children and they are deeply, deeply bonded and have a culture of their own.”  

(RNS)

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