Study: US marriage rate down 5%

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Many people are waiting until they get older to say their vows, and there are many reasons behind it.

"I think the longer you wait the better," said Natalie Brown, who's getting married in April.

According to new statistics, the marriage rate in the U.S. is at its lowest point in more than a century, and the number of marriages across the country fell more than 5 percent during the recession.

But a new breakdown projects that built-up demand and the large population of young singles means more will be tying the knot over the next two years.

Demographic Intelligence conducted a study revealing cultural changes: the fact that two-thirds of couples live together before getting married and the recession -- including unemployment and underemployment -- all fueled the wedding decline.

Brown said there's nothing wrong with taking your time and making sure you're financially stable enough to wed.

"It's incredibly expensive," she said. "To me, we're doing a small wedding and it's still the median cost for a wedding is, it's very hard."

According to the analysis, from 2007 to 2009, the number of marriages each year fell from 2.197 million to 2.080 million. The report estimates that more than 175,000 weddings have been postponed or foregone since the recession started.

Although the study finds marriage numbers are stagnant or declining among those with a high school education or less, numbers are rising among college-educated women ages 25-34. It's based on various measures, including unemployment and consumer confidence, which reflect the tie between financial security and the transition to marriage.

"If you're just jumping right into marriage and into a home right after moving out with your parents, you're taking on a lot more than you would if you had a little bit more time to grow as a person," Brown said.

Experts predict by 2015, the average age of the first marriage for a man will go up from 28 to 29, and for a woman it will go up from 26 to 27.

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