The Continuing Retreat of Marriage: Figures from Marital Status Life Tables for United States Females, 2000–2005 and 2005–2010

  • Robert SchoenEmail author
Part of the The Springer Series on Demographic Methods and Population Analysis book series (PSDE, volume 39)


The lack of vital statistics data on American marriage and divorce has made it difficult to follow post-1995 changes in marriage behavior. Here, a new approach, Rate Estimation from Adjacent Populations (REAP), is used in conjunction with vital statistics mortality data and recently released divorce data from the American Community Survey to construct marital status life tables that reflect the lifetime implications of observed or inferred rates of marriage, divorce, and mortality. Methodologically, the chapter sets forth the features of the REAP approach. Substantively, the analysis shows that the retreat from marriage is continuing, but unevenly. The probability that a woman ever marries has fallen to 80 %, and the average age at first marriage has risen, slightly, to 27 years. At the same time, the probability of divorce appears to be holding steady at about 43–46 %. The results suggest that the great transformation of the American family has not yet run its course.


Marital-status life-tables Divorce probability Proportion ever-marrying Marriage age Sequential cross-sections Rate estimation 



Assistance from Joshua Goldstein, Rose Kreider, Jamie Lewis, and Steven Ruggles is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Population Research InstitutePennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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