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Census: Longer marriages, fewer divorces

23 percent of couples married since 1990 have divorced, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. But that number is lower than it was in the 1980s, when 26 percent got a divorce. There are generally fewer divorces nowadays, but part of that has to do with the way marriage has evolved.

For example, people are waiting longer to get married, and when people do that, their marriages tend to last longer. Last year, the average age for men in their first marriage was 28. For women it was 26. In 1950 those ages were 23 and 20.

Some call it the "soul mate" model of marriage. That is, waiting for just the right person to provide emotional fulfillment. In 1950, people hesitated less before getting married. It was what people did. Now, people may want to be more financially stable before walking down the aisle.

Even though marriage on the whole is more stable for Americans, it doesn't fit across all demographics. Groups with increasing divorces include those with less money and no college degrees. For Caucasian women, 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce. The number is 49 percent for African-American women, and 22 percent for Asian women.

According to the report, 55 percent of all married couples have been married for at least 15 years. 6 percent make it to their 50th anniversary.

The report also says cohabitation is becoming more common, with many couples having children out of wedlock. And perhaps the most surprising statistic: one third of adults in this country never marry.

Source: ABC News, "Divorce drops, long-lasting marriages rise: U.S. Census report," 19 May 2011

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