More teens are getting married - 11/12/02
cmfce at smartmarriages.com
Wed Nov 13 11:30:58 EST 2002
subject: More teens are getting married - 11/12/02
from: Smart Marriages®
USA Today: More teens jumping the broom
NY Times headline was: "Sharp Increase in
Marriages of Teenagers Found in 90's"
This story appeared in at least 30 newspapers over the weekend, including
the Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Houston Chroncle, the
St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Kansas City Star, the Philadephia Daily News and
the New York Times.
More teens are getting married, USA Today
WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of married teenagers surged nearly 50% during
the '90s, reversing a decades-long decline.
Marriage remains fairly uncommon in this age group - only 4.5% of 15- to
19-year-olds were hitched in 2000 - but researchers were nonetheless
surprised by the increase reported by the Census Bureau.
David Popenoe of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, which
studies marriage trends and ways to strengthen marriage, offered several
"There's been a slight trend toward conservatism among teens, less
premarital sex, more fear of disease," he said. "It could conceivably have
something to do with welfare reform. But it's a surprise."
This generation of teens is the first to live their whole lives with AIDS as
a major public health concern. Some counselors suggested wedded teens are
taking to heart the "abstinence until marriage" theme projected by some sex
Regardless, the trend runs counter to what's happening among all Americans,
who generally are waiting longer to get married. For men, the median age of
first marriage was 26.8 in 2000, up from 26.1 in 1990 and 22.8 in 1950.
Among women, the median age was 25.1 in 2000, up from 23.9 in 1990 and 20.3
There were 891,000 married 15- to 19-year-olds in 2000, up from 598,000 in
1990, when married teens comprised 3.4% of all 15- to 19-year-olds. The
increase came after a steady decline since 1950, when 9.5% of teens were
Some researchers attribute the surge during the 1990s to an influx of
immigrants. Many came from areas where marriage is more common among teens -
Latin America, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
"It's more like the U.S. in the 1950s. In a lot of these countries the
median age of first marriage is lower than 20," said demographer John Haaga
of the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit research group. "And of
course in the United States the past decade, the immigrants came
predominantly from Mexico and to a lesser extent Asia, so that could be one
explanation for this."
At least two-thirds of married teens in 2000 lived apart from their spouse
for various reasons; one may have been in jail, away in college or remaining
in their homeland. However, the Census Bureau said many of the couples
counted as living apart may have indeed been living together in places like
dormitories or shelters but may not have been identified that way due to
quirks in the way data was collected.
Martin O'Connell, chief of the bureau's fertility and family statistics
branch, suggested some of the overall increase in teen marriages could also
be attributable to the way information was gathered. In 1990, all census
forms included a question on marital status. But in 2000, estimates of
marital status were based on responses to the long census form distributed
to only about 20 million homes.
Most states allow people to marry at age 18, with exceptions given in some
places for people as young as 12 who have their own child, or who get
parental approval. The 2000 census gathered data on marital status for
people 15 and older.
Figures released last year from the National Center for Health Statistics
found nearly half of marriages in which the bride is 18 or younger end in
separation or divorce within 10 years. For brides 25 and older, half as many
marriages break up.
Jodie Levin-Epstein, deputy director of the liberal-leaning Center for Law
and Social Policy, said social and political changes may have prompted more
teens to marry in the 1990s. For example, couples in some states may have
married to take advantage of programs established through the 1996 welfare
"It would seem inappropriate in this economy that requires substantial
educational achievement to promote marriage among teenagers," Levin-Epstein
said. "While for some young couples a marriage may work well, the earlier
the marriage, the likelier the divorce."
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