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The number of U.S. adults who affirm marriage as very important continues to decline, according to a Gallup report published Dec. 28.

Overall, 31% say it is very important for couples to marry when they have children together, while 38% say marriage is very important for couples who plan to spend the rest of their lives together.

These figures are down from 49% and 54%, respectively, in 2006 and down from 38% and 43%, respectively, in 2013.

Over the same period, those saying it is “not too / not at all important” for couples to marry when they have children together rose from 23% (2006) to 35% (2013) to 40% (2020).

Those saying it is “not too / not at all important” for couples to marry if they plan to spend the rest of their lives together rose from 25% (2006) to 35% (2013) to 36% (2020).

While all subgroups saw a decline from 2006 to 2020 in the percentage saying marriage was “very important,” those who attend church weekly were the most likely group to do so in both of the presented scenarios.

Forty-five percent of weekly churchgoers said it was “very important” for couples with children to marry, while 67% said it was “very important” for couples who plan to spend their lives together to do so.

By comparison, 32% of monthly worshippers said it is “very important” for couples with children to marry and 46% say it is “very important” for couples to marry if they plan to spend the rest of their lives together.

Though weekly worship attendees retained the top spot in marriage affirmation among all the survey’s subgroups in both scenarios, they still saw a 20-point and 15-point decline, respectively, in affirming marriage as “very important.”

U.S. marriage rates have declined in recent decades, dropping from 80% who had been married at some point and 55% currently married in 2006 to 69% and 49%, respectively, in 2020.

“Between 1978 and 1983, a consistent 64% of Gallup poll respondents reported being married. The percentage fell below 60% in the mid-1990s and has been below 50% since 2015,” the report said. Much of that decline in the marriage rate in the past four decades is accounted for by the 8% who say they are unmarried but living with a partner – a category not included in Gallup surveys prior to 1999.”

A change in the wording of questions took place in the most recent survey, with references to “man and woman” used in 2006 and 2013 being replaced with “couple” in 2020.

The full report is available here. The topline results are available here.

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