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Even among individuals in their early thirties, the proportion of men who were never married increased from 15.0% in 1981 to 54.0% in 2011.
In contrast, thirty years earlier, in 1981, 60.9% of the population aged 15 and over was married, while 39.1% was unmarried.
The provinces with the largest shares of the population aged 15 and over that were married in 2011 were Newfoundland and Labrador (52.9%), Prince Edward Island (51.7%), Ontario (50.3%) and Alberta (50.2%).
Specifically, in 2011 there was a smaller population that was married in the younger to middle adult years combined with a larger population of middle-aged to older adults that was never-married, divorced or separated compared to 1981 (Figure 1).
Among the population that was never married, there was a large increase in the proportions for those in their twenties and thirties in 2011 compared to 1981.
This reflects that, on average, men tend to enter unions at slightly older ages than do women, and among opposite-sex couples, men tend to partner with women slightly younger than themselves.The share of men in their late twenties who were never married increased from 32.0% in 1981 to 78.8% in 2011; and for women in this age group, the corresponding increase was from 20.0% to 67.4%.Legal marital status refers to the marital status of the person under the law (e.g., never married, married, divorced or separated, or widowed).In 2011, 46.4% of the population aged 15 and over was legally married, while 53.6% was unmarried—that is, never married, divorced or separated, or widowed—a widening of the gap first observed among the total population in 2001.
For young adults aged 25 to 29, the proportion who were never married rose from about one-quarter of this population (26.0%) in 1981 to close to three-quarters (73.1%) in 2011.Prior to age 65 in 1981 and before age 75 in 2011, men were more likely than women to have never been legally married—especially for men under age 60 in 2011 and under age 35 in 1981 (Figure 2).