Map by Priceonomics; data from the United Nations World Marriage Data 2015
Every year, parents have more and more reason toask their children when they plan to get married.
This is the case around the world, becausemarrying later than the previous generation is a global trend. People aregetting married later—or not at all.
Yet this similarity co-exists with differentmarriage practices that can make people’s lives vary tremendously from countryto country. In particular, which country you live in can impact how long youspend living single by as much as a decade.
You can see this discrepancy in the above map,which illustrates the average age at which people get married by country. Itdraws on data collected by the United Nations.
The contrast that immediately stands out is theconnection between a country’s income and when its citizens marry. On average,people in wealthy, Nordic countries like Finlandand Swedendo not marry until they are in their thirties. But in the Central African Republic, theaverage person marries before turning twenty—the lowest average in this dataset.
The relationship between income levels andmarriage, however, is not destiny: Although the United States is much richerthan Chile, the average age at marriage in each country is around 28.
There are some limitations to this data. Sincecountries do not conduct surveys and censuses every year, this data does notrepresent the same time frame for every country. We only included countrieswhose latest data comes from 2009 to 2014, which is why much of central Africa has no data. The official metric calculatedby these surveys, “Mean Singulate Age at Marriage”, also ignores people whonever get married.
Yet the data still captures the fact that peopleenter marriage—a central institution for most of us—at different periods intheir lives.
To make the above table and map, we averaged theage at which men and women get married in each country. But this hides animportant dynamic: that men marry later than women. In this data set—which doesnot include a number of poorer countries—men in each country marry 3.7 yearslater than women.
This gender gap exists in every country. It islarger in poorer countries like Egypt,where women marry 5 years earlier than men. In richer countries like France,the gap is only 1.6 years.
This suggests that the gender gap may narrow ascountries develop. This has occurred—as the below chart shows—but onlygradually over the decades.
It remains common for women to marry very youngin some countries. According to U.N. reports, 39 countries have data showingthat 20% of women married by age 18. In twenty countries, a full 10% of womenmarried by age 15. In only 2 countries, however, are 10% of men married beforethe age of 18.
Still, men and women are getting married laterin every region of the world. The average age of marriage for women increasedfrom 21.8 to 24.7 years from the seventies to the mid 2000s, with the averageage for men rising a comparable amount.
This has resulted in some fairly dramatic statshere in the United States.Today, less than half of American adults are married—down from 72% in 1960—andalmost as many babies are born out of wedlock as to married couples.
Nevertheless, around the world, the majority ofpeople still get married, even if they get married later. In all but a dozen orso countries, 80% of men and women have been married by age 49, and even morepeople commit to similar relationships.
Despite different and changing practices aroundthe world, shacking up is still the norm.
MissCellania • 3 years ago
The metadata is far from clear about whether these stats come from first marriages only or current marriages, which would pull the ages upward. I was a widow who remarried at age 50. Depending on how the data was collected, my age at first marriage might or might not have been included. Either way, remarriages would skew the "age of marriage" higher all around.3
Alex Mayyasi Mod MissCellania • 3 years ago
Hey there. The data comes from a variety of sources but uses a standard metric whose name rolls right off the tongue: "singulate mean age at marriage." It looks at survey data about the first time ppl are ever married. You can read in more detail by following the link to the UN page.2
MissCellania Alex Mayyasi • 3 years ago
Thanks -I did go to the UN page, but did not know what "singulate mean age at marriage" meant.1
email@example.com MissCellania • a day ago
I basically get paid about 6,000-8,000 dollars /month with an online job. Everyone prepared to complete simple computer-based work for 2-5 hrs daily at your home and make valuable income while doing it... Try this *********
eastcoast_beachguy • 3 years ago
I don't think I am ever getting married. I mean, maybe.
allenhanks1966 • 22 days ago
Alex, I don't think you know what "shacking up" means.
H'14 • a month ago
Seeing an inconsistency in the data shown above... you say that "The average age of marriage for women increased from 21.8 to 24.7 years from the seventies to the mid 2000s." However, the graph shown with the title "Average Age at Marriage: Men Women" shows that the age for women actually increased from ~23 in 1970 to ~29 in 2005?
Jacques Bouchard • 3 years ago
I feel like the color-scheme theme of this makes it very difficult to understand any local-based data within a 2-3 year radius. Liike, what is the average for New England, USA? 28? Who can tell?