March 2, 2010 -- Will your marriage survive at least 10 years? The odds are worse if you're young or have no kids during the marriage, the CDC reports.
The findings come from a new CDC report on U.S. marriage and cohabitation. The data were collected in 2002 in one-on-one interviews with a nationally representative sample of some 7,600 women and 5,000 men.
The report is based on heterosexual relationships, defining cohabitation as a man and a woman living together in a sexual relationship without being married.
Here are some highlights of the report.
Which Marriages Last 10 Years?
Get married young, break up young. The odds of a marriage lasting at least 10 years are:
• 54% for women and 47% for men who get married between ages 15 and 19
• 64% for women and 65% for men who get married between ages 20 and 25
• 76% for women and 73% for men who get married at 26 or older
Do children affect marriages? Apparently so. The odds of a marriage lasting at least 10 years are:
• 34% for women and 37% for men who have no children during the marriage
• 55% for women and 65% for men who have a first child by their eventual husband or wife before marriage
• 79% for women and 79% for men whose first child is born at least eight months after marriage
• Having children doesn't mean the marriage lasts a lifetime. 1997 data show that only 57% of marriages last 15 years, and only half last 20 years.
Will your marriage last longer if you first explore living together? Maybe not -- even if you cohabit with your eventual spouse. The odds of a marriage lasting at least 10 years are:
• 60% for women and 62% for men who ever cohabited
• 61% for women and 63% for men who cohabited with their first spouse
• 66% for women and 69% for men who never cohabited
Education makes a difference. But there's at least one surprise here: Just getting a high school diploma doesn't help, but a college degree makes a big difference. The odds of a marriage lasting at least 10 years are:
• 54% for women and 56% for men with a high school diploma or GED
• 63% for women and 61% for men with no high school diploma or GED
• 62% for women and 64% for men with some college but no degree
• 78% for women and 81% for men with a bachelor's degree or higher
Your family structure makes a difference, too, most markedly for women. The odds of a marriage lasting at least 10 years are:
• 67% for women and 66% for men who lived in a two-parent household at age 14
• 48% for women and 63% for men who did not live in a two-parent household at age 14
Marriage success rates differ by race and ethnicity. The odds of a marriage lasting at least 10 years are:
• 51% for black, non-Hispanic men and women
• 64% for white, non-Hispanic men and women
• 68% for Hispanic women and 75% for Hispanic men
The CDC data offer fascinating glimpses of U.S. cohabitation:
• From 1987 to 2002, the percentage of women who ever cohabited more than doubled, from 30% to 61%.
• For women ages 19 to 44, more than half of marriages from 1990 to 1994 began as cohabitations.
• More than half of births outside marriage occur in cohabitations.
• Over 40% of U.S. children will spend some time in a cohabiting household.
• For women ages 18 to 19, cohabitation is over twice as common as marriage (11% vs. 5%).
• For women ages 25 to 44, marriage is nearly eight times more common than cohabitation (62% vs. 8%).
• More than half of couples in their first cohabitation marry within three years.