Marriage is a hot topic among millennials—many are choosing to delay it, while others are entering into what they consider to be easy-out “starter marriages.” Although there are plenty of 25-year-olds getting married, you probably know your fair share of 35-year-olds who have yet to tie the knot. There are a number of factors influencing the age at which a person decides to marry, from where they live and work, to the sort of marriage their parents had, to where they grew up. But it turns out there’s a less-talked-about factor that might be the most significant influencer of all: male-to-female sex ratios.
The average man in the U.S. gets married at 29 years old, according to a 2011 Pew Report. But when you begin to look state by state, you see greater variations. The average age starts at 25.6 in Utah and tops out at 30.6 in Washington D.C., according to 2010 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
You’d probably be inclined to cite rural versus urban, religious differences or social values as the main reasons for the variation, but it turns out male-to-female sex ratios may actually be to blame. According to these statistics, the more competitive the dating pool is, the more likely it is that a man will get married at an early age. In states where there are many women compared to men, the average age goes up.
For example, places like Utah have fewer women than men, which means men are getting married earlier. It’s similar in places such as Idaho, South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming. However, on the flip side, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey have more women than men, which makes the average age of marriage later, around 30.
There are some exceptions to the rule (we’re talking about you, Alaska and Nevada), but overall, male-to-female ratio definitely appears to play a major role in when men tie the knot. See how your state stacks up here.