WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Fewer and fewer Americans are getting married, continuing a decades-long trend among nearly all education levels and ages that shows no signs of slowing down.

In 2011, 4.2 million adults were newly married, about the same number as in 2010 and sharply lower than the 4.5 million newlyweds estimated in 2008, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which asked respondents whether they had been married, divorced or widowed in the previous 12 months.

This decline in nuptials from 2008 to 2011 is consistent with a general trend away from marriage in the U.S. Barely half of adults (51 percent) were married in 2011, according to ACS data, compared with 72 percent in 1960.

Cohabitation, single-person households and other adult living arrangements are increasingly replacing marriage.

This decreasing number of newly married adults was apparent among nearly all education levels and ages. The only exception was among adults age 65 and older, where the number of newlyweds were roughly similar in 2011 (89,000) and 2008 (91,000).

A slight distinction was made between different levels of education.

The new-marriage rate fell from 2008 to 2011 among all age and education groups, but was larger for less-educated Americans. Among adults who had not completed high school, an estimated 23.1 entered into marriage per thousand eligible in 2011, a 14 percent decline from the rate of 26.8 in 2008.

Among adults who had completed at least a bachelor’s degree, an estimated 55.3 got married per thousand eligible in 2011, a 10 percent decline down from 61.5 in 2008.


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