Marital Status

Unwed Births

State Statutes Against
Marital Status Discrimination

Laws Stigmatizing
Children Born to
Unmarried Parents

Some Other Laws Affecting
Single People


Facts About Single People



Per capita population:

  • There are 106 million unmarried adults in the United States.

  • Singles constitute more than 44% of the adult population in the nation.

  • About 44% of the nation's workforce are unmarried employees

  • The Census Bureau estimates that about 10% of adults will never marry.


  • A majority of the nation's households are headed by unmarried adults

  • Married couples with minor children live in fewer than 25% of the nation’s households.

  • Single adults living alone comprise about 27% of the nation’s households.

  • Another 13 million single adults are living with unmarried relatives.

  • Nearly 6% of the nation’s households are composed of two unrelated adults living together, with 68% of these households containing partners of the opposite sex.

  • Hispanic households are the most likely to contain a married couple:

  • Singles tend to be renters rather than home owners. Of the nation’s 65 million owner-occupied units, 69% are occupied by married couples. Of the nation’s 34 million rental units, only 38% are occupied by married couples.

Unmarried Cohabitation:

  • Of people who have recently married, the majority had cohabited together prior to marriage.

  • Opposite-sex cohabitation is increasing rapidly, with a 28% increase between 1990 and 1994.

  • In 1970, there was one unmarried couple for every 100 married couples in the nation.

  • In 1995, there were seven unmarried couples for every 100 married couples in the nation.

Older Adults:

  • According to a study done by the American Association of Retired people: 15 million older adults live alone; another 1.5 million older adults live with a roommate or partner.

People with Disabilities

  • According to the Disability Statistics Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, of the 32 million adults in the United States who have disabilities, some 13 million (40%) are unmarried.

Marriage rate:

  • The marriage rate in the U.S. dropped to 9 marriages per 1,000 population in 1993, the lowest rate in 30 years.



  • The divorce rate has remained fairly stable since 1988.

  • It was 2.5 divorces per 1,000 population in 1966, 5.3 divorces per 1,000 population in 1981, and 4.6
    divorces per 1,000 population in 1993.


  • In 1970, 3.0% of the adult population was currently divorced.

  • In 1994, 9.0% of the adult population was currently divorced.

  • In 1997, 9.8% of the adult population was currently divorced.

Nonmarital childbearing:

  • In 1980, one in five births was nonmarital; in 1992 almost one in three births were to unmarried women. This a 54% increase in only 12 years.

  • In 1998, the Census Bureau reported that a MAJORITY of first-born children in recent years were either conceived by, or born to, unmarried parents.

  • In 2009, 41% of all births were to unmarried mothers

Premarital sex:

  • virgins at time of marriage:

  • Of those born between 1933 and 1942:
    22% of men & 54% of women were virgins.

           Of those born between 1963 and 1974:
          16% of men & 20% of women were virgins.

  • unmarried cohabitation prior to marriage:

          Of those born between 1933 and 1942:
          84% of men & 94% of women did not cohabit.

         Of those born between 1963 and 1974:
         34% of men & 35% of women did not cohabit.

Single parent families:

  • Half of all children in the nation will spend some time in a single parent family.

  • 9.1% of all households in the nation are now single-parent families.

Public Opinion Polls:

American Enterprise, 7-1-95:

  • Premarital sex is always wrong:

1972: 71% said yes

1994: 51% said yes

  • 1989 national survey found that:

          Women having children out of wedlock is:

Acceptable: 27%

Unacceptable: 59%

          A single parent family is:

Acceptable: 61%

Unacceptable: 22%

National Opinion Research Center:

          Premarital sex is wrong:

1937: 55.0% agree

1973: 47.0% agree

1959: 54.0% agree

1990: 40.0% agree

1969: 68.8% agree

1991: 37.0% agree

Marital status and politics:

In the last three presidential elections, a majority of unmarried adults voted for the Democratic nominee, while a majority of married adults voted for the Republican nominee. In recent national elections, about 35% of voters were unmarried, with a large majority of unmarried voters favoring Democratic candidates for Congress.