Independent Woman

This exchange between Steve Sailer and Brad DeLong led me to some data on the median age at first marriage in the United States which I used as the basis for my chart:


The story we see here is that in 1890 men waited until the relatively old age of 26.1 years before getting married -- perhaps representing the time at which they could acquire some land and support a family, and they married substantially younger women -- 22 years old on average. Over time, growing prosperity led the first marriage age for men to drop steadily and substantially to 22.8 in both the 1950 and 1960 snapshots. At the same time, women's age at first marriage declined steadily and slightly to 20.3, giving us the "traditional" (i.e., postwar) family.

At this point, the trends reverse and average age at first marriage rises steadily. By 1980, women are getting married at the 1890 age again, though men are still getting married younger than their 1890s counterparts. By 1990, however, 1890 marriage ages are back in style for men, and women are getting married later than their 1890s counterparts. By 2000, at 26.8 men are getting married slightly later than they did back in the way, but women at 25.1 years old are now getting married way than either midcentury or late 19th century women. From 2000-2003, ages continue to creep upwards for both genders, and after that I have no data.