Census Data Reveals America’s Weird Marriage Habits

Census Data Reveals America’s Weird Marriage Habits

A new visualisation of US Census Bureau data reveals — in soothingly colourful bars and interactive key metrics — that married people are the weird ones. And you’d be surprised how many Americans get married at 15.

By and large, the data plays out as one might expect. Marriage rates take off around age 28 and start to slow down significantly at 68. Right in the middle of that range, from around age 45 to age 60, is where the bulk of divorces happen. By age 70, the number of people who report being widowed starts to climb.

It’s a beautiful, flowing graph of the many paths a human life can take as the number of people to potentially share it with slowly dwindles. However, there’s two are slightly disturbing takeaways to be had in this data. Statistically, if you and your partner make it to age 94, one of you is probably not long for this world. From age 93 to age 94, the number of widowed people in the US more than doubles.

On the other end of the age spectrum, the numbers show that over 66,000 Americans under the age of 18 are married, and over 10,000 had already been married and then separated or divorced.

While fun to draw conclusions on American values from, the data is far from conclusive, as it’s only drawn from the census data for 2014. There are some clear trends in aggregate, but the filtering by sex, race, state, and employment status sometimes spits back graphs that point to the limited scope of the data set. Selecting only Alaska Native women residing in Montana but are outside the labour force, for example, results in this:

Well, that can’t be quite right.

Well, that can’t be quite right. So it seems like there are about 51 51-year-old widowed women who meet that criteria, and about 91 married 68-year-olds in similar straits. Which seems unlikely.

Feel free to mess around with the tool here, but as mentioned, take the results lightly. (Unless they make you feel better about your current relationship status. Then by all means, these are good graphs to hang your hat on.)