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Statistics

Below you'll find current statistics about:
Cohabitation (unmarried partner households)
Unmarried childbearing and parenting
More about unmarried different-sex couples
Marital status (general information)
What people think about unmarried relationships
Domestic partner health benefits

How we get our numbers
 

Also, visit our Experts Speak page to read recent comments on unmarried lives by sociologists, demographers, historians, and other experts.

Cohabitation (unmarried partner households):

According to the 2000 Census, there are currently about 11 million people living with an unmarried partner in the U.S. This includes both same-sex and different-sex couples.
- U.S. Census Bureau, 2000
(If this number doesn't match the number you found from another source, read How We Get Our Numbers, below).
For a list of the states with the highest and lowest percentages of unmarried partner households, see our Fun Facts page.

There are 9.7 million Americans living with an unmarried different-sex partner and 1.2 million American living with a same-sex partner. 11% of unmarried partners are same-sex couples.
- U.S. Census Bureau, 2000

41% of American women ages 15-44 have cohabited (lived with an unmarried different-sex partner) at some point. This includes 9% of women ages 15-19, 38% of women ages 20-24, 49% of women ages 25-29, 51% of women ages 30-34, 50% of women ages 35-39, and 43% of women ages 40-44.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United States." Vital Health and Statistics Series 23, Number 22, Department of Health and Human Services, 2002.

The number of unmarried couples living together increased 72% between 1990 and 2000.
- U.S. Census Bureau, 2000

The number of unmarried couples living together has increased tenfold between 1960 and 2000.
- U.S. Census Bureau, 2000.

Unmarried childbearing and parenting:

41% of unmarried partner households have children under 18 living in them.
- U.S. Census Bureau, America's Families and Living Arrangements 2000

33% of all births are to unmarried women.
- National Center for Health Statistics, 2000 data (report released 2002)

41% of first births to unmarried women are actually babies born to cohabiting couples, not "single" women.
- Bumpass, Larry and Lu, Hsien-Hen(2000). "Trends in Cohabitation and Implications for Children's Family Contexts in the United States." Population Studies, 54: 29-41.

About two-fifths of children are expected to live in a cohabiting household at some point.
- U.S. Census Bureau, 2000

More about unmarried different-sex couples:

55% of different-sex cohabitors get married within 5 years of moving in together. 40% break up within that same time period. About 10% remain in an unmarried relationship five years or longer.
- Smock, Pamela (2000). "Cohabitation in the United States." Annual Review of Sociology.

About 20% of all male-female cohabitors, or 1.6 million people, have been living together for more than five years. There is little known about these long-term unmarrieds because no research has focused on this subgroup.
- Bumpass, Larry; Sweet, James; and Cherlin, Andrew (1991). "The Role of Cohabitation in Declining Rates of Marriage." Journal of Marriage and the Family. 53:913-27.
- Calculation by the Alternatives to Marriage Project

About 75% of cohabitors say they plan to marry their partners (about 6.2 million people).
- Smock, Pamela (2000). "Cohabitation in the United States." Annual Review of Sociology.

The majority of couples marrying today have lived together first (53% of women's first marriages are preceded by cohabitation).
- Bumpass, Larry and Lu, Hsien-Hen (2000). "Trends in Cohabitation and Implications for Children's Family Contexts in the United States." Population Studies, 54: 29-41.

In 1995, 24% of women ages 25-34 were cohabiting, compared to 22% of women ages 35-39, and 15% for women 40-44. In every age category, the percentages have increased since 1987.
- Bumpass, Larry and Lu, Hsien-Hen (2000). "Trends in Cohabitation and Implications for Children's Family Contexts in the United States." Population Studies, 54: 29-41.

General information on marital status:

The average American spends the majority of his or her life unmarried.
- Kreider, Rose and Fields, Jason (2002). "Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 1996." Current Population Reports

44% of American adults are currently unmarried (2000 data). This number has been rising steadily: in 1970 36% of Americans were unmarried; in 1980 39% of Americans were unmarried; in 1990 41%of Americans were unmarried.
- "Marital Status of the Population 15 Years Old and Over, by Sex and Race: 1950 to Present," U.S. Census Bureau, 2001

In 2000, 31% of men and 25% of women ages 15 and over (the way the Census counts adults) had never married.
- U.S. Census Bureau, Families and Living Arrangements 2000

Median Age at First Marriage:
Men:
1890: 26.1 years old
1900: 25.9
1910: 25.1
1920: 24.6
1930: 24.3
1940: 24.3
1950: 22.8
1960: 22.8
1970: 23.2
1980: 24.7
1990: 26.1
2000: 26.8

Women:
1890: 22.0 years old
1900: 21.9
1910: 21.6
1920: 21.2
1930: 21.3
1940: 21.5
1950: 20.3
1960: 20.3
1970: 20.8
1980: 22.0
1990: 23.9
2000: 25.1

- Age data from the U. S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports (2000), "Estimated Age at First Marriage"

Marital status of American adults:
Men:
1890: 48% unmarried
1900: 47%
1910: 46%
1920: 42%
1930: 42%
1940: 40% 1960: 30%
1970: 34%
1980: 37%
1990: 39%
2000: 42%

Women:
1890: 45% unmarried
1900: 45%
1910: 43%
1920: 41%
1930: 41%
1940: 40%
1950: 34%
1960: 34%
1970: 39%
1980: 41%
1990: 43%
2000: 45%

- Marital status data for 1890 - 1970 from U.S. Census Bureau, Historical Abstracts of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970,Series A 160-171, 1989. Data for 1980 -2000 from U.S. Census Bureau, MS-1. "Marital Status of the Population 15 Years and Over, by Sex and Race: 1950 to Present." 2001.

What people think about unmarried relationships:

In a 1995 Harris poll, 90% of people believe society "should value all types of families."
- Stephanie Coontz, The Way We Really Are: Coming to Terms With America's Changing Families, 1997

Only one-quarter of American households consist of what most people think of as a "traditional family": a married couple and their children.
-"The Emerging 21st Century Family," National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago, 1999

45% of people in their twenties believe the government should not be involved in licensing marriage.
- Gallup survey for the National Marriage Project, The State of Our Unions 2001

 

On domestic partner health benefits:

More than 1/4 of Americans work for an employer that offers domestic partner benefits.
- U.S. Census Bureau. County Business Patterns 2000. Washington, D.C., 2002, p. 3. Society for Human Resource Management. 2002 Benefits Survey. Alexandria, VA, 2002, p. 6. Calculation by Dorian Solot.

As of September 2001, over 4,200 employers offered domestic partner health insurance to their employees.
- Human Rights Campaign, 2001

90% of employers that offer domestic partner benefits make them available to both same-sex and different-sex couples.
- Human Rights Campaign, 2001

43% of people in their twenties believe that cohabiting couples should receive the same benefits as married couples.
- Gallup survey, The State of Our Unions 2001
 

How We Get Our Numbers

We take seriously the accuracy of the information we provide. If you have a question about a source or find data that doesn't match ours, please let us know. For instance, here's why our numbers don't match some other sources about the number of people living with an unmarried partner in the U.S.
11 million is the number of people who live with an unmarried partner in the United States, according to the 2000 decennial Census. This number includes members of same-sex and different-sex couples who told the Census they were "unmarried partners," not roommates, in the 2000 decennial Census.
5.5 million is the number of unmarried partner households in the United States, according to the 2000 decennial Census. Each household contains a couple; therefore, 11 million people.
4.9 million is the number of different-sex unmarried partner households in the United States, according to the 2000 decennial Census. This number excludes same-sex couples.
9.7 million is the number of people living with a different-sex unmarried partner in the United States, according to the 2000 decennial Census. This is double the number of different-sex unmarried partner households, since each household contains a couple. This number excludes same-sex couples.
4.7 million is the number of households containing two different-sex, unmarried people (it's a count based on POSSLQ, People of the Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters), according to the Census' 2000 Current Population Survey. This number counts households, not people (at least two unmarried people are in each household). There is no way to know if the people in the household are roommates or intimate partners. It excludes same-sex couples.
3.8 million is the number of different-sex unmarried partner households in the U.S., based on the Census' 2000 Current Population Survey. This number excludes same-sex partners, and it's a count of households, not people (there are at least two people in each unmarried partner household). The Current Population Survey is a smaller annual count which tends to undercount unmarried partners compared to the major decennial census, according to Census demograher Jason Fields. This is because it's done by telephone, with a survey-taker reading the questions. People may feel less comfortable admitting they are unmarried partners on the phone with a stranger, compared with filling out a form in the privacy of their home. Also, they may categorize their relationship before the survey-taker reads the whole list, and not realize that "unmarried partner" is an option.


Alternatives to Marriage Project
P.O. Box 991010, Boston, MA 02199
phone 781-793-0296 * fax 781-394-6625
atmp@unmarried.org
www.unmarried.org
 


Source

 

Probe Answers Our E-Mail

 

"Where Does the Bible Talk About Unmarried Sex?"

I am a single Christian and I do believe in abstaining from sex until marriage. But I have a friend who is also a Christian and is having sex outside of marriage with her boyfriend (both are single).

I have always believed that the Bible teaches that you shouldn't have sex outside of marriage, but when I went to look for scriptures that teach this, I couldn't find any. I found plenty about not sleeping with relatives and animals and such, but nothing about unmarried sex.

Can you tell me where the Bible teaches that you shouldn't have sex outside of marriage?

 
 
Kerby Anderson answered:

I typed in the word "premarital sex" on the Probe web site (www.probe.org) and got back 16 matches. I might encourage you to look at my article on "Teen Sexual Revolution" along with the article by Ray Bohlin on "Sexual Purity " and the article by Jerry Solomon and Jimmy Williams on "Why Wait Until Marriage."

Perhaps the reason you are having difficulty finding verses on premarital sex is due to the fact that the Bible uses words or phrases like fornication, sexual immorality, or youthful lusts. If you put these terms in a search engine, you will find numerous verses in the Bible dealing with premarital sex.

Thanks for writing, and stay pure.

Kerby Anderson
Probe Ministries

Ray Bohlin answered:

The term fornication, or in more modern translations, sexual immorality, simply refers to all sexual activity outside of marriage. Below is the first paragraph under "fornication" in the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 1975, Vol. 2, p. 601:

"Four different NT meanings are obvious. 1. In 1 Corinthians 7:2 and 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Paul is warning unmarried people about the temptation to fornication. In both cases fornication refers to voluntary sexual intercourse of an unmarried person with anyone of the opposite sex. The meaning is specific and restricted. In four other passages fornication is used in a list of sins which includes "adultery" (Matt. 15:19; Mark 7:21; 1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:19). Since adultery involves a married person, the meaning of fornication in these passages is specific and restricted, involving unchastity of unmarried people."

Later the same entry relates,

"Jesus related fornication to adultery when he said "Everyone who looks at a woman lustfully (i.e. with a thought of sexual intercourse) has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matt. 5:28). R. C. H. Lenski interprets the "everyone" to include both men and women and both married and unmarried. Thus Jesus was saying that sexual intercourse of unmarried people (fornication) is as evil as extra-marital sexual intercourse (adultery)."

The entry closes with this statement:

"Those who state that the NT makes no reference to permarital sex relations and gives no advice on the personal and social problems involved are overlooking the NT use and meaning of the word fornication, esp. in such passages as 1 Corinthians 7:2 and 1 Thessalonians 4:3."

Please also note that Paul closes his discussion of sexual immorality in 1 Cor. 7 with verses 8 and 9. "But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I (verse 8). But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn (verse 9)." I'd say he felt rather strongly about it.

While the Scripture is very clear concerning the immorality and sin of pre-marital sex, these verses also need to be shared with humility and gentleness with the end of restoring a brother and sister in Christ, not driving them away. The truth of God's word convicts on its own. A spirit of judgment can often be counterproductive.

Respectfully,

Ray Bohlin
Probe Ministries


 


 

 


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