Dalrock has an article up on the recent rise in never-married women. I decided to a look at more extended data and reformat the axes to make it easier to interpret. I’ve made use of U.S. Census data from Marital and Living Arrangements reports. Because the Census is a population-wide study, the standard error is almost zero.
First up is the massive decline in marriage rates through the years. The data goes back to 1960, and looks at all women in the United States.
Note how the green line is significantly higher than the purple and light blue lines, and how this pattern continues with the yellow, orange, and dark blue lines. From the 70s onwards, there has been a colossal rise in the percent of women in their 20s who have never married. This has started extending to women in their 30s.
The picture becomes even clearer when the statistics by cohort (i.e. birth year) are examined. I used data from the 2012, 2007, 2002, 1997, and 1992 censuses for this.
As can be seen, subsequent generations are delaying marriage more than their predecessors. Note that about a fifth of Gen-Xers delayed marriage till their early 30s, but many of them were able to get married by their late 30s, leaving only ~10% never married (purple and light blue lines). However, this changed with the most recent Gen Xers. Only a small portion of them were able to get married before hitting the wall, as can be seen by the green line. I’ve decided to call this the “Kate Bolick Effect”. Quite simply, the women in their early 30s are finding themselves competing against the growing group of single women in their late 20s. Given a choice, men will inevitably choose the latter.
Notice the tip of the orange line. Almost half of women in their late 20s today are single, and I expect that they will push aside the women in the yellow line, resulting in about a quarter of women being never married. It is as yet impossible to determine where this process will reach equilibrium, but the current data doesn’t look good.