One in five men who remarry wed a woman at least 10 years their junior, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census data. By contrast, only one in 20 men on their first marriage pair up with someone that young.
“There’s a common stereotype that American men who remarry are especially likely to walk down the aisle with a younger woman,” Pew’s Gretchen Livingston writes. She rates that stereotype “largely true.”
While 80 per cent of men in their first marriages have spouses within five years of their age, that share drops to 57 per cent by the second marriage. Men are no more or less likely to marry older women between their first and second marriages, Pew finds.
For women, the numbers are essentially the reverse, although the changes between the first and second marriage aren’t as dramatic. Seven percent of women have a spouse more than 10 years their senior in their first marriage, a share which nearly doubles to 13 per cent by the second marriage.
Interestingly, though, women are also more likely to marry younger men on their second trip to the altar. Only 3 percent of women in their first marriage walk down the aisle with men more than five years younger than them. By the second marriage, that share has risen to 11 per cent.
Overall, Pew finds that four in ten new marriages are a remarriage for at least one spouse. In the 1960s, only 13 percent of married adults were on their second marriage. In 2013, that number stood at 23 per cent.
And it’s not just second marriages — third and fourth marriages are becoming more common too. Fully one in ten white newlyweds are on their third-plus marriage, according to Pew’s calculations. Bloomberg’s visual data team sliced the Census numbers last year and found that Arkansas is the state with the highest share of thrice-married residents: 7.5 percent of the 15+ population is on at least their third marriage. Arkansas is followed by Oklahoma, Idaho, Tennessee and Alabama.
At the bottom of Bloomberg’s list is New Jersey, where only 1.3 per cent of the 15+ population is on their third marriage. Northeastern states generally have low rates of serial marriage. More and more, a stable marriage is becoming a luxury of the rich and well-educated. So it’s not exactly surprising that remarriage rates are higher in less-wealthy Southern states.
A study of Facebook users earlier this year found that internationally, the average age gap between people in a relationship was 2.4 years. In the U.S., the average age gap between couples increased as the couples got older, echoing Pew’s findings.