Marriage has long been a central institution in the lives of Americans. In 1980, just 6% of 40-year-olds had never been married. But people born from the 1960s onward have been increasingly delaying marriage, and a growing share are forgoing it altogether.

The 2021 data marks a new milestone in that decadeslong trend.

While many unmarried 40-year-olds are living with a romantic partner, most are not. In 2022, 22% of never-married adults ages 40 to 44 were cohabiting.

The share of 40-year-olds in 2021 who had never married varied by the following demographic characteristics:

  • Gender: A higher share of men than women had never married.
  • Race and ethnicity: Black 40-year-olds were much more likely to have never married than Hispanic, White and Asian 40-year-olds.
  • Education level: 40-year-olds without a four-year college degree were more likely to have never married than those who had completed at least a bachelor’s degree. One-third of those with a high school diploma or less had never married, compared with 26% of those with some college education and 18% of those with a bachelor’s degree or more education.
  • The overall decrease in […]
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