Is It Normal To Be Unmarried At Your Age?

Things I did not know about the Centers for Disease Control include the fact that they don’t just keep an eye on things like teen pregnancy and the horrors lurking at Tough Mudder events. They also apparently track statistics on marriage probability. So: What’s a blog to do when they get a hold of this kind of information? Make an infographic, of course — which is precisely what New York Magazine’s Science of Us blog did. Ladies and gentlemen, we now have a graphical representation of how statistically normal it is that you’re not married yet:

Well, great. I turned 29 this year, so it looks like I’m starting to lean towards the abnormal end of things. Apparently that little TIME app that determined at what age I was “supposed” to get married based on the relationship statuses of my Facebook friends wasn’t that far off? Eh. Whatever. I’ll get married when I’m good and ready to do it, and not a moment before.

What this image doesn’t tell us, though, is how the numbers have changed over time. The big picture as revealed by the CDC tells us a little bit more: First, we’re dealing with the probability of first marriage among men and women between the ages of 15 and 44 before reaching a specific age; and second, the percentages are decreasing as we go. Here’s what the chart looks like for women:

And here’s what it looks like for men:

Ain’t that somethin’? In 1995, 25 in 100 women were married for the first time by the age of 20. In 2002, it had dropped to 17 out of 100; and now, it’s only 13. The difference is less pronounced in the dudes, but there’s still a downward trend: Although we don’t seem to have data for 1995, eight out of 100 men were married by the age of 20 in 2002, and only five out of 100 are now.

I kind of wonder how these figures would match up with the average cost of a wedding in America. What kinds of weddings do those 17 women and five men have in comparison to the 78 women and 71 men who are married by the age of 35? How about those who are married by the age of 40? Do those who had really elaborate weddings that put them into debt when they were younger regret them once they’ve aged a little bit? Inquiring minds want to know!

In the meantime, though, it can’t hurt to remind yourself of this one simple truth: “Normal” is relative. Just do you.

Images: Science of Us/New York Magazine