February 14, 2013

Majority of Never-Married Adults Want to Wed


Though many Americans agree the institution of marriage is becoming obsolete, 61% of those who have never married still want to do so.

About four-in-ten Americans (39%) in a 2010 survey said they agree that marriage as an institution is becoming obsolete. Back in the 70s, only 28% agreed with that premise.

Still, a majority of those who had never been married said that they want to get married (61%). Just 12% said they didn’t want to marry and 27% said they were not sure.

Younger generations were more likely than those ages 50 and older to hold the view that marriage is becoming obsolete. Some 44% of blacks said marriage is becoming obsolete, compared with 36% of whites. Adults with college degrees (27%) were much less likely than those with a high school diploma or less (45%) to agree that marriage is becoming obsolete.

When analyzed by respondents’ marital status, these differences sharpened. Just 31% of married adults agreed that marriage is becoming obsolete, compared with 46% of all unmarried adults, 58% of never married single parents and 62% of cohabiting (unmarried) parents.

However, attitudes toward the institution of marriage did not always match personal wishes about getting married. Asked whether they wanted to get married, 47% of unmarried adults who agreed that marriage is becoming obsolete said they would like to wed. Read more

For more Pew Research findings, see: Love and Marriage

  1. Photo of Bruce Drake

    is a senior editor at Pew Research Center.