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California on its Way to Becoming a Majority-Single State

According to the latest U.S. Census statistics, only about 51% of Californians over the age of 18 are married, which is down from 74% in 1960. The percentage of Californians who have never been married is at 34%. One reason for these trends is that women across the nation are waiting until they are older to get married, on average around the age of 27. Another reason for the boost in the single numbers is the rise of divorce as a result of legislation in California allowing the “no fault” divorce. This made it exponentially easier for couples (mostly women) to file for and receive a divorce, without having to prove a specific reason why.

Another reason for the lower divorce rates in California is the choice of many couples to cohabitate and raise a family without the need to get married first. Check out the Census date maps here that show the percentage of families living in various suburbs in California, and the percentage of those families that are actually married.

Some argue this trend is problematic for children. For example, blogger Bradford Wilcox argues the rituals, customs, and norms associated with marriage generally increase the odds that men will invest financially, practically, and emotionally in the lives of their children. However, due to the decline of marriage, fewer and fewer men have the opportunity to be this kind of father in America. Another blogger, Matthew Yglesias, points out that one doesn’t necessarily need to be married in the eyes of California law to be a present and loving father figure in a child’s life, and cohabitating before marriage may be a reasonable financial choice for many men and women in California.