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How is marriage doing?
Updated: 2004-05-17 13:56

Barring a last-minute court order, Massachusetts on Monday will become the nation's first state where same-sex marriage is legal. It's the latest twist in the evolution of an institution that has seen many changes in the last 30 years.

More people are getting divorced, more kids are living with single parents and more grandparents are playing a mother or father role for their grandkids. Following are statistics and facts about marriage that use the most recent available data in U.S.


— Fifty percent of first marriages will end in divorce, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau projections, taken in 2002.

— Men and women have slightly different track records with divorce. As of 1995, about 50 percent of first marriages for men under age 45 may end in divorce; between 44 and 52 percent of women's first marriages may end in divorce for that age group.

— The likelihood of a divorce is lowest for men and women over age 60. Thirty-six percent of men and 32 percent of women in that age group may get divorced from their first spouse by the end of their lives.

— As many as 50 percent of people in their early forties may be divorced from their first spouse.

— Within five years of marriage, about 10 percent of first-time married couples will likely divorce.

— In 1970, the median age for a first marriage was 21 for women and 23 for men. By 2000, that number had risen to 25 for women and 27 for men.

— The proportion of never-married women ages 20 to 24 doubled between 1970 and 2000, increasing from 36 percent to 73 percent. Among men this age, the share rose from 55 percent to 84 percent. Women ages 30-34 who were never married tripled during that time, from 6 percent to 22 percent. Men this age who never married grew from 9 percent to 30 percent.

— By the age 35, about 74 percent of men and women have been married; by age 65, 95 percent have been.

— Marriage is the model type of living arrangement for people aged 25-34. In 2000, 50 percent of men and 57 percent of women this age were married and living with their spouse


— Seven in 10 of the nation's 72.3 million children under 18 lived with two parents in 2002.

— Children under 15 represented 84 percent of the 49.7 million kids under 18 living with two parents in 2002. Of these, about 11 million lived with stay-at-home moms and 189,999 with stay-at-home dads.

— Three in 10 children under 18 were living with their single father and their dad's unmarried partner in 2002; only 1 in 10 kids who lived with their single mother shared the home with the mom's unmarried partner. In 1996, about 5 percent of all children lived with unmarried parents and their parent's partner.

— Two-fifths of unmarried couple households included children under 18 years old in 2000.

— In 1980, 77 percent of all children under 18 lived with two parents; 73 percent did in 1990 and 69 percent did by 2000.

— By 2000, about 5 percent of the nation's children — 4 million — were living in a grandparent's home; only 14 percent of that number had both a mother and father living with them.

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