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How Long Do Marriages Last?

Thu Aug 25 2011
Diana Elliott
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Many Americans stay married and have long marriages. Did you know that the median duration of American women’s first marriages in 2009 was 20.8 years? Even when American women remarry, the median duration of their second marriages in 2009 was 14.5 years.

A new Census Bureau report titled Marital Events of Americans: 2009 examines marriage, divorce and widowhood in America. This report is the first of its kind to describe the detailed characteristics of Americans’ marital events using the American Community Survey . Because of the large sample size and geographic coverage of this survey, this report looks at comparisons of marital events among small groups and across the 50 states.

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Women in the mid and southern parts of the U.S. were among those with the longest first marriages in 2009. Twenty-seven states had median durations of marriages significantly longer than the U.S. median of 20.8 years. Women in both eastern and western states were among those with shorter first marriages in 2009. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia had median durations of first marriages significantly shorter than the U.S. median.

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Thirteen states had longer second marriages in 2009 than the U.S. median of 14.5 years. Seven of the states with significantly longer marriages were in the South (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas). Twelve states and the District of Columbia had shorter second marriages than the U.S. median in 2009.

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Why do women in some states have longer first and second marriages than other states? As discussed in this new report, marriages tend to happen at younger ages in states with longer marriages. If couples marry when they are younger and stay married, they will celebrate more anniversaries together.

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If you are interested in such facts and figures about marriage in America, the Marital Events of Americans: 2009 report has much more to offer. Academics, students, the media, and the interested public will discover how the demographics about marriage, divorce and widowhood in this report provide considerable insight into family life in America today.

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