Common Age Differences, Married Couples

Through pop culture, it sometimes seems like it’s common for there to be a wide age difference between spouses. How common are the age gaps, really? These are the age differences through the lens of the 2022 five-year American Community Survey.

More Common for the Husband to be Older

Among male-female married households.

More common for husbands to be older.  

This seems about right. A third of male-female married households have spouses within a year of each other. When there is an age difference, the husband is usually the older one. Wider gaps of 10 years or more are less common but not unheard of.

I thought for sure that greater age gaps would grow with age. After a certain age it would seem that age would matter less? But as shown in the following, the age of wife and husband stick pretty close to the equal line.

Differences by Age of Each Spouse

Circles represent the prevalence of married couples at the corresponding ages.

Wider age gaps at older ages.  

When comparing first marriages against second and third marriages, the age gaps seemed somewhat wider, so that might be something else to consider. Age gaps between same-sex marriages also seemed to be a bit wider. Or maybe we need to look at partners who are not married also. How has this changed over time? I think I need to poke more.

The data comes from the 2022 five-year American Community Survey. I downloaded the data via IPUMS, analyzed and made the charts in R, and finished them up in Adobe Illustrator.

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My work on FlowingData is supported by paid memberships. Since 2007, I have been analyzing data and making charts to help people understand and appreciate data in their work and everyday lives. I hope to keep it going for many more years.

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