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More and More People Are Never Getting Married — and the Decline Is Impacting Men Harder Than Women

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Are you single and fearing you'll never get married?

You've got plenty of company.

In a massive report released Wednesday, the Pew Research Center took a hard look at the decline of marriage in America and found Americans nowadays are twice as likely to have never been married as they were five decades ago.

Image via Shutterstock Image via Shutterstock

In 1960, a mere nine percent of Americans 25 and older (10 percent of men, eight percent of women) had never been married, the study showed, but by 2012, that figure had more than doubled to one in five Americans.

Image via Pew Research Center Image via Pew Research Center

Men were hit harder by the decline, as less than 20 percent of women had never been married but for men, the figure approached one in four.

Image via Pew Research Center Image via Pew Research Center

There was a distinct race gap in Pew's report as well: While only 16 percent of white Americans over age 25 had never been married, minority groups across the board had higher rates of never having been married, with blacks topping 36 percent.

The Pew report pointed to a variety of factors contributing to the high percentages of people who've never tied the knot.

For one thing, 78 percent of never-married women polled by Pew said that they were looking for a spouse with a steady job, but a tough economy has narrowed down the numbers of eligible employed men.

For every 100 never-married women over age 25 in 2012, there were 126 never-married men — but only 91 of those men were employed.

Another factor potentially contributing to lower marriage rates: people just don't value the institution as much as they used to.

Pew asked more than 10,000 people whether they thought society is better off when adults prioritize marriage and children, or whether it's better for people to have other priorities.

While 46 percent of respondents said that adults having marriage and children as top priorities is a good thing for society, 50 percent said other matters could take precedence in the minds of adults and society would be just fine.

Pew's report comes one month after singles (ages 16 and older) became the majority of American adults for the first time, and it's likely the trend will continue: Embedded in Pew's Wednesday report is the sobering statistic that one quarter of today's young adults will reach age 45 without ever marrying.

Image via Pew Research Center Image via Pew Research Center

Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

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