Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Four-in-Ten Couples are Saying “I Do,” Again

Growing Number of Adults Have Remarried

Four-in-Ten New Marriages Involve Remarriage
[tweetable url="" alt="Almost 42 million Americans have been married more than once, up from 22 million in 1980 and 14 million in 1960"] [tweetable url="" alt="Almost one-fourth of married people are remarried, vs. 17% in 1980, 13% in 1960"]
Women More Likely to Say “No Thanks” When it Comes to Remarriage

A close look at the census data suggests another important trend: Even as marriage itself is in decline in the U.S., previously married people are as willing as ever to jump back into wedlock. Divorced or widowed adults are about as likely to remarry today (57% have done so) as they were more than 50 years ago. By contrast, the share of all adults who have entered into marriage even once has fallen markedly, from 85% in 1960 to 70% in 2013.

[tweetable url="" alt="45% of currently divorced or widowed say they do not want to marry again; 21% say they do; 31% aren't sure"] [tweetable url="" alt="54% of currently divorced or widowed women vs. 30% of men say they don't want to remarry"] [tweetable url="" alt="Previously married men more likely than previously married women to have remarried (64% vs. 52%)"] [tweetable url="" alt="50% of previously married people 65+ had remarried in 2013, up from 34% in 1960"]

The trend is moving the other way, however, for younger Americans, with remarriage becoming less prevalent. Among those ages 25 to 34, 43% had remarried in 2013, compared with 75% in 1960.

Earlier research has documented the strong correlation between marriage and financial well-being,1 and this pattern holds for remarried adults as well as for adults in their first marriage. On key economic measures, remarried adults fare better than their currently divorced counterparts and about as well as those in their first marriage. Some 7% of currently remarried adults are living in poverty, compared with 19% of divorced adults. The median annual personal income of remarried adults is about $30,000; this is roughly $5,000 higher than that of divorced adults. Homeownership, which often reflects wealth, is also much higher for the remarried than the divorced—79% versus 58%. Remarried adults also fare much better than those who are widowed in terms of financial well-being.

These findings are based on a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the 2013 American Community Survey, as well as the 1960 and 1980 censuses. These datasets are nationally representative of the U.S. population. The report is divided into four sections: The first focuses on overall changes in the likelihood of remarrying since 1960; the second section examines how the likelihood of remarriage varies for different demographic groups; the third section discusses the demographic and economic profile of remarried adults, compared with adults in their first marriage and presently divorced adults; and the fourth section includes an analysis of newlywed couples that are in a first marriage, compared with newlywed couples that are in a remarriage.

Other Key Findings

  • [tweetable url="" alt="8% of newly married adults have been married three times or more"]Fully 8% of newly married adults have been married three times or more. This share is 10% among whites, compared with 6% of blacks, 4% of Hispanics and just 2% of Asian Americans. And 9% of newlyweds with just a high school diploma have been married at least three times. Among those who lack a high school diploma the share is 8%, and among newlyweds with a bachelor’s degree or more, 5% have been married three times or more.
  • On average, the age gap between spouses in new marriages in which at least one of the spouses has been married before is wider than the age gap between those in a first marriage. Some 16% of newly remarried couples include a husband who is at least 10 years older than his wife. Among first-time newlywed couples, this share is 4%. Overall, 39% of first-time newlywed couples are within a year of each other’s ages, compared with 21% of remarried newlywed couples.
  • Remarriage is more common among whites than among non-whites or Hispanics. Fully six-in-ten previously married whites have remarried, compared with 51% of Hispanics, 48% of blacks and 46% of Asian Americans.
  • Previously married adults who were born in the U.S. are more likely than the foreign born to remarry (58% vs. 51%, respectively). Across time this gap has narrowed, as remarriage has risen dramatically among the foreign born, up from 40% in 1960.

About This Report

This report describes the rise in remarriage from 1960 to 2013 in the U.S., focusing in particular on the share of divorced and widowed adults who have ever remarried. It is based upon data from the Decennial Census, as well as the American Community Survey, and examines the likelihood of remarriage for different groups. Furthermore, the analysis compares the characteristics of people in a first marriage, with those who are presently in a remarriage, and those who are presently divorced.

This report is a collaborative effort based on the input and analysis of the following individuals. Kim Parker, director of social trends research; Claudia Deane, director of research practices; Michael Dimock, the president of Pew Research Center; and D’Vera Cohn, senior writer, provided editorial guidance. Gretchen Livingston, senior researcher, analyzed the data and wrote the report. Charts and tables were finalized by Anna Brown, research assistant. Michael Keegan provided additional graphic support. Number-checking was done by Eileen Patten, research analyst. The report was copy edited by Molly Rohal. Michael Suh provided web support. Find related reports online at

A Note on Terminology

Any person who reports having been married at least twice is classified as “remarried.”

“Previously married” individuals are those who have either divorced or been widowed at least once, who were then available for remarriage. They are also referred to as “divorced or widowed” people in the text.

The small share of adults who report they are separated are included in the “presently married” category.

“Newlyweds” are those who married within 12 months of being surveyed.

Any couple with at least one spouse who is 18 years of age or older is included in the couple-level analyses. Only couples in which both spouses are residing together—whether in a first marriage or a remarriage—are included. Data regarding the characteristics of the small share of spouses who are not cohabiting are not available.

References to respondents who are high school graduates, or who have a high school diploma also include those who have earned an equivalent degree, such as a GED (General Educational Development) certificate.

All references to whites, blacks and Asians are to the non-Hispanic components of those populations. Asians also include Pacific Islanders. Hispanics are of any race. All race analyses are based upon 2012 data, because the RACESING variable used in the analysis has yet to be released in the 2013 IPUMS.

People born outside of the United States, including those born in Puerto Rico or other U.S. territories are classified as “foreign born.” “U.S. born” refers to persons born in the United States.

Poverty is based on the U.S. Census Bureau measure. It is defined by an income threshold that is dependent on family composition and income, adjusted for inflation. In 2013, the official poverty threshold for a family of four was $23,550.

  1. It’s not clear how much of this link between marriage and financial well-being is attributable to marriage itself, and how much of it might relate to the fact that people who marry are more likely to fare well financially regardless of their marital status. For instance, married men typically make higher wages than unmarried men. This may occur because married men have additional support at home that may in turn help them be more productive at work. Or it may be the case that characteristics such as responsibility that make someone a more productive worker might also make that person more likely to get married. See here for more on this.
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