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Which race has the lowest marriage rate?

Marriage rates in the United States have been declining for decades, but some racial groups still marry at higher rates than others. Understanding differences in marriage patterns can provide insight into cultural values, economic factors, and social trends.

Marriage Rates by Race

According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the racial group with the lowest marriage rate in the U.S. is Black or African American. In 2020, only 30.4% of Black adults 18 and older were married, compared to 50.3% of White adults, 46.1% of Hispanic adults, and 60.1% Asian adults. This represents a significant gap in marriage rates across racial lines.

Race Marriage Rate
Black or African American 30.4%
White 50.3%
Hispanic 46.1%
Asian 60.1%

The table above clearly shows the marriage rates for major racial groups. Asian Americans have the highest marriage rates, followed by Whites, Hispanics, and Blacks.

Trends Over Time

The gap in marriage rates between Blacks and other racial groups is not new – it has persisted for decades. Since 1980, the percentage of never-married Black adults 25-34 years old has remained high, typically around 50-60%. In comparison, only 20-30% of young White adults and 30-40% of Hispanic adults have never been married.

However, there has been a broader decline in marriage that has affected all racial groups. For example, in 1960, 74% of all adults 18 and older were married compared to only 50% in 2018.Each racial group has seen a 20-30 percentage point drop in marriage rates over the past 60 years.

Why Such Low Marriage Rates Among Blacks?

There are several potential factors behind the lower rates of marriage among Black Americans compared to other racial groups:

Economic Factors

On average, Black Americans have lower incomes, higher poverty rates, and higher unemployment than Whites and Asians. This economic disadvantage makes marriage less accessible for many Blacks. Research shows those with stable employment and higher earnings are more likely to get married.

High Incarceration Rates

Black men have disproportionately high incarceration rates, removing many as potential marriage partners within their communities. Approximately 1 in 3 black men will be imprisoned at some point in their lifetimes.

Decline of Stable Blue-Collar Jobs

The decline of well-paid, stable blue-collar jobs has hit the Black community hard and undermined the economic foundation for marriage. In the past, black men could support families with jobs in auto manufacturing and steel production, but those opportunities have dwindled.

Cultural Attitudes

Attitudes and norms related to marriage have shifted substantially in the African American community. Marriage is less idealized than in the past, and single parenthood is more widely accepted. This cultural shift away from marriage has reduced incentives to marry.

Skewed Sex Ratios

Higher mortality and incarceration rates for black men have skewed sex ratios in the African American community. There are only 83 black men for every 100 black women, compared to 99 white men for every 100 white women. With fewer potential partners, black women are less likely to marry.

Lower Marriage Expectations

Surveys show blacks are less likely than whites to consider marriage “very important” and more likely to believe marriage is becoming obsolete. This pessimism about the necessity of marriage reduces incentives to marry.

Why Marriage Matters

The low rate of marriage among African Americans has important social implications. Studies show marriage is associated with:

  • Higher household incomes and asset accumulation
  • Greater family stability
  • Better outcomes for children
  • Higher life expectancy
  • Greater life satisfaction

Increasing marriage rates in the black community will also reduce high rates of female-headed households, which are strongly correlated with poverty. However, this will require addressing systemic racial inequities as well as cultural attitudes around marriage.

Other Racial Differences

While Blacks have the lowest marriage rates in the U.S., there are also significant variations between other racial groups:


Hispanic marriage rates are higher than for Blacks but lower than for Whites and Asians. Hispanic families are more likely to embrace traditional gender norms and family values that encourage marriage. However, lower average education levels and economic resources reduce marriage rates compared to Whites.


Asian Americans have the highest marriage rates of any racial group. Cultural traditions in most Asian subcultures place strong emphasis on marriage and family. High education levels also support marriage among Asian Americans. However, fast cultural assimilation among younger generations may reduce future marriage rates.


Whites have maintained higher marriage rates than Blacks, but the gap is shrinking. Declining blue-collar jobs and growing income inequality have reduced working-class white marriage rates. The growing disconnect between marriage and childbearing has also driven down rates.

The Future of Marriage

Marriage rates are projected to continue declining over the next several decades in the U.S., particularly among younger cohorts. This is due to shifting cultural norms, delayed marriage ages, higher economic uncertainty, and growth of alternative family structures.

However, concerted efforts through public policy and community programs could potentially boost marriage rates in coming years. Proposed solutions include expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, eliminating marriage penalties in welfare programs, funding relationship education, and reducing high incarceration rates.

Addressing disparities in marriage across racial lines will also be key to ensuring equal access to the social and economic benefits of marriage. Policymakers have proposed criminal justice reforms, job creation in minority communities, and expanded access to higher education to strengthen the foundations for marriage.


Black Americans have the lowest rate of marriage of any racial group, with only about 30% of Black adults currently married. This stands in contrast to marriage rates of 50% for Whites, 46% for Hispanics, and 60% for Asians. A complex array of economic, social, and cultural factors have driven down marriage rates in the African American community. These factors must be addressed through policy reforms and renewed cultural emphasis on the social significance of marriage and family.

Boosting marriage rates, particularly among disadvantaged populations, could strengthen families, reduce poverty, and promote equality and social justice. Though the future of marriage is uncertain, addressing racial disparities remains key to ensuring access to the institution provides for all Americans.