Median Age at Marriage–Then and Now

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, March 22, 1911:  The events of the day are not worth the time to mention them. I am waiting and hoping to get a bid to the wedding.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Other diary entries indicated that Edith (last name unknown) was planning to marry Harry Reynolds. I assume this is the upcoming wedding that Grandma was referring to. Edith and Grandma’s sister Ruth were both seniors at McEwensville High School.

Edith was probably about 18 years old. I’ve heard that the average age when people get married has increased a lot over the years. Until I did a little research I assumed that 18 probably was a fairly typical marriage age a hundred years ago.

I was surprised to learn that in 1910 the median age at first marriage  was 21.6 for females and 25.1 for males.

The median marriage age steadily decreased until the middle of the 20th century. In 1950, it was 20.3 for females and 22.8 for males.

The trend then reversed and by 2007, it had increased to 25.0 for females and 26.7 for males–and preliminary estimates for 2010 suggest that it has continued to climb to about 26 for females and 28 for males.

Another surprise for me was how the age gap between females and males has decreased over time. On average in 1910 women were about 3 1/2 years younger than their spouses. (This statistic makes it seem even more surprising that Grandma and Grandpa married each other. They also had a 3 1/2 year age gap–but she was 3 1/2 years older than him.) Now the average age gap is probably slightly less than 2 years.

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