Average Age at First Marriage

People are often curious about when they are supposed to get married. Other people then respond–Whenever you want! Whenever you’re ready!

But has that always been the case?

Using US statistics, infoplease.com states that in 2010, the average age at first marriage for men was 28.2 while the average age for women was 26.1.

In 1990 the average age was 26.1 for men and 23.9 for women. That’s about two years less for both men and women.

The numbers continue to drop until the 1950s, when they reached an all time low (for the modern era) with men marrying on average at age 22.8 and women at 20.3.

However, then the numbers tend to shoot back up. For example, in 1890 the average man married for the first time at age 26.1 and women at 22.0 (about the average age for men and women 100 years later!).

So why the flux of age when marrying?

Currently both men and women are attending colleges and universities and choosing to delay marriage by at least four years. Many of whom state that they want to find a job and settle in before marrying, hence waiting until their late 20s for men and mid-twenties for women.

In the 1950s though, people weren’t attending colleges and universities in the same numbers as they are today. In fact, many women did not higher education, choosing instead to be a stay at home wife or mother. Why? Because this was an era where families could support each other off of one income. Why? Because the industrial revolution had taken off, with a flurry of high paying, lower educated jobs–compared to today where the higher paying jobs require higher educations.

So why delay marriage in the 1890s? Well, the industrial revolution hadn’t yet hit. A single person couldn’t make enough money to support a spouse and children. In fact, in this era, it wasn’t uncommon for children to be working–either in the fields or in the factories. So both men and women had to work in order to support themselves, hence delaying marriage.

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