Age at Marriage and Sex Ratios
One factor in the birthrate is the proportion of people. who get married and the ages at which they marry. A study of marriages inKorea found that women married before the age of 19 had an average of 4.02 children during their childbearing years compared to 2.5 children for those married after the age of 25 [Kim et al., 1974, p. 647]. Early marriage I, not only increases the number of years of’· childbearing; it is also associated with lower social-class background. together with attitudes and practices which favor large families. The marriage rate is also related to the sexcomposition of the population. One would assume that usually the number of both sexes is approximately equal and that the age distribution is “normal”; but actually this is seldom uue. In the United States, the sexratio in 1980 was 94.5 men to every 100 women, ba e on 110,032,000 men to 116,473,000 women. Young men wi ‘hillg a wide choice of mates would be well advised to go to Washington, D.C. where a host of female office workers has reduced the sex
ratio to 86 (that is, 86 men per 100 women). Those women wishing greater marital opportunities might think about Alaska, which had a sex ratio of about 115. Black men are even , more scarce than white men on a relative
basis, since the sex ratio for the United States tor blacks was 89.6 [all sex ratios based on data in Statistical Abstract, 1981, pp. ~51. Unbalanced sex ratios mean that some people will not be able to have a monogamous marriage. A locality may attract more of one sex than another, thus there are often more women than men in cities and more men in frontier areas. For an entire nation, though, the imbalance is due to a lower death rate for females, which is cumulative through life.’For the age bracket 70 to 74, the sex ratio in 1980 had fallen to 72, meaning that there were fewer than 3 males for every 4 females [based n data in U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1I1dicators III, 1981d, p. 42). Americans married at steadily younger ages between 1900 and 1955, when the average age,at marriage turned slightly upward. The median age at marriage for men rose from
22.3 years in 1955 to 23.4 in 1979; and for women, from 20.2 to 21.6 [Statistical Abstract, 1981, P: 80J. It is unclear whether this .is temporary or whether early marriage is be coming less attractive. If early marriage is
losing its appeal. this will be another factor reducing the birthrate.