December 4, 2014

Tying the knot again? Chances are, there’s a bigger age gap than the first time around

men more likely to remarry woman much youngerThere’s a common stereotype that American men who remarry are especially likely to walk down the aisle with a younger woman. A new Pew Research analysis of census data finds that’s largely true.

Not only are men who have recently remarried more likely than those beginning a first marriage to have a spouse who is younger; in many cases, she is much younger. Some 20% of men who are newly remarried have a wife who is at least 10 years their junior, and another 18% married a woman who is 6-9 years younger. By comparison, just 5% of newlywed men in their first marriage have a spouse who is 10 years younger, and 10% married a woman who is 6-9 years younger.

On the whole, remarriage is on the rise – four in ten new marriages include at least one partner who has been married before, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. The number of adults who have ever remarried now stands at 42 million—a threefold increase since 1960.

This analysis is based upon recently released data from the 2013 American Community Survey (ACS), and focusses on adults who have married in the past 12 months. Due to data limitations, individuals in same-sex marriages are not analyzed.

Over half (57%) of newly remarried men have a partner who is within 5 years of their age, compared with 80% of newlywed men in their first marriage.

The likelihood of having an older wife does not differ markedly for newlyweds in a first versus a subsequent marriage—6% of men who remarried, married someone at least 6 years older, as did 5% of those who married for the first time.

Among women who have recently remarried, the likelihood of having a much younger spouse is far smaller than among remarried men, but still greater than among women in their first marriage. Just 5% of remarried women have a husband 10 or more years younger, compared with 1% of wives in their first marriage. And 6% of remarried wives have a husband 6-9 years their junior, compared with 2% of wives in their first marriage.

Like men, the majority of women marry someone near their own age, and this is more often the case among those in their first marriage. While 78% of wives in their first marriage are within five years of their husband’s age, this share is 62% for remarried wives.

Some 13% of newly remarried women have a husband who is at least 10 years older than they are, compared with 7% of women in their first marriage. And 14% of remarried women are 6-9 years younger than their husband, as are 11% of those who are in their first marriage.

Topics: Marriage and Divorce

  1. Photo of Gretchen Livingston

    is a senior researcher focusing on fertility and family demographics at Pew Research Center.


  1. Denny Marek3 years ago

    When my previous wife was pronounced terminal, she would often tease me and say that when she was gone, I’d wind up with some 25 year-old blonde with big boobs. When Barb passed on, I was 61. Then I met Marissa. She told me she’d be 26 in a couple of weeks. I thought “game over”. But here it is, 4 1/2 years later, she lives with me and we couldn’t be happier. She’s younger than all 4 of my kids, and I get along great with her 3.

  2. Devorah Firestone3 years ago

    I’m wondering though if divorced women with children are both less likely to date and less likely to marry over cohabitating. Especially if they have primary custody and feel more pressure to date carefully, are they simply not marrying as much? How do the figures account for that? Are divorced women with children simply less available?

  3. Ole Øyberg Halvorsen3 years ago

    There are no dubt that some remarriage among old men are some of the reason why men of the younger generations have problems with finding a partner. And of course many’s lack of a steady job and/or education. Wouldn’t suprise me if many women don’t want to marry a man who are of a lower class than them either, a man should be better economically and socially than his wife still in these days.

  4. Krissy P.3 years ago

    I am 29 years old and my fiancè is 21years my senior(he’s 50) I am in the most healthy relationship I could imagine. I hear women –my age– talking about the audacity of men out there these days! My Love, Dirk, is an easy going guy, and he’s totally HOT, and he has a stable life style. I find it difficult to find a gentleman who is educated and respectful anywhere under 35-40. Dirk looks young, when I met him I truly didnt realize HOW much older he was. But he is the LOVE OF MY LIFE. –And yes, I will be his second wife.

  5. donna joslyn3 years ago

    You have to read the article to figure out that you’re talking about percentages. Please – when you make a graph, put in the information needed to read the graph or chart. %, years, whatever. You tend to leave these things out all the time, which makes charts and graphs useless.

  6. Pyrite3 years ago

    It would be interesting to know the reason that a person became single. More specifically was there a divorce or death.

    I have also always been curious about the “statistic” that second or subsequent marriages have a higher divorce rate than first marriages. If true, do people who have had one divorce have a higher rate of divorce than people who have lost their first spouse through death?

  7. Packard Day3 years ago

    “Second marriages are the triumph of hope over experience.”

    Samuel Johnson