The age when Americans marry for the first time has risen to its highest point since the 1950s. Although true, there is more to the story. With life expectancy increasing, Americans today are actually marrying sooner in their lifetime, despite marrying at older ages.
Although it is common to use the 1950s as a comparison period, doing so exaggerates how much the age at marriage has really risen . Looking at trends since 1890 reveals a U-shaped curve in which the 1950s and 1960s stand out as the exception for marriage, not the norm (estimates for these two decades are not significantly different from one another).
By the end of the 19th century, men married for the first time at 26 years old, three years later than they did in the decade following the Second World War. By 1900 their age at marriage began falling, and it took a full century before returning to its 1890 level. For women, it took 90 years. The idea then that our great-great-grandparents married when they were little older than teenagers is little more than myth.
More from the US Census.