The Words 'I Do' Still Ringing Loud and Clear in U.S. Census: Divorce Rates Level Off

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Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Americans remain a marrying people, with 55 percent of everyone over the age of 15 having taken a walk down the aisle at least once by 2009 - almost as high as in the mid-1990s, the Census Bureau said in a new report Wednesday.

Compared to the divorce revolution years of the 1970s and early 1980s, marriage, divorce and remarriage trends haven't changed radically in recent years, said bureau analyst Rose Kreider.

In 2009, for instance, 52 percent of all American men had married once and 43 percent were still married to the same wife, not much different from 1996, when about 54 percent of all men had married once and 44 percent were with the same wife. In both years, around 20 percent of all men had ever divorced.

Also, in 2009, 83 percent of newlyweds celebrated their five-year anniversary, 55 percent of married couples made it to their 15th-year anniversary, 35 percent made it to their silver 25th anniversary and 6 percent reached their golden 50-year marker.

These percentages are only 1 to 2 percentage points higher than in 1996, reflecting both the leveling of divorce rates and the increases in life expectancy, Ms. Kreider wrote.

The new census report is based on data from 39,000 households in the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). It asks men and women about their current marital status as well as marital history.

One of the most noticeable changes in marital patterns is the delaying of marriage, said Ms. …