Lancaster County Marriages: Who Needs ’Em?

Time magazine coverThe cover story in the current issue of Time, “Who Needs Marriage? A Changing Institution,” shares the results of a new Pew Research Center study on how, as a nation, our attitudes toward marriage have changed over the past fifty years.

There are a lot of statistics in the article that cannot be broken down to the local level, but there was one question I knew I could answer: What percentage of adults in Lancaster County were married in 1960, compared to 2008?

I asked this question because it was surprising to me to learn that, nationwide, only about half of all adults are currently married, down from more than two thirds in 1960. (We’re counting adults as individuals 20 years of age or older.) I was curious to know what those numbers were for Lancaster County, to compare how we stack up to the nation as a whole. Here’s the answer.

Table: Percentage of Adults Who Are Currently Married

United States Lancaster Co.
1960 68% 78%
2008 52% 62%

It’s uncanny how Lancaster County has remained exactly ten percent higher in this regard over the past half-century. We may be moving slower, but we’re following the same trend as the nation as a whole.

This leads me to a reader poll: Is marriage obsolete? When Time asked this question in 1978, “when the divorce rate was much higher than it is today,” 28% said it was. In this new study, that number has grown to 40%. What do you say?

[poll id=”14″]