Alberta men increasingly marrying younger women

I recently encountered a dataset called “First Marriage for Bride and Groom, Age of Groom by Age of Bride”. I was intrigued.

I was recently browsing through the Open Data website for the Government of Alberta when I encountered a dataset called “First Marriage for Bride and Groom, Age of Groom by Age of Bride”.

Needless to say, it caught my eye. So I opened it up.

It’s a collection of the number of men per age range cross referenced to the the age ranges of the women they married. The date range runs from 2001 to 2018 and includes only data for first marriages, and only different-sex marriages at that.

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I noticed a few things as I was perusing the data.

I found it interesting that more women marry in the lower age ranges (15–29) than men do. In 2018 (the most recent data available), 8,449 Alberta women married for the first time under the age of 30, compared to 7,273 men.

Alberta women were 16% more likely than men to marry before they were 30 years old. And even though the majority of both men and women who married in 2018 were under 30 years old, a larger percentage of women (65%) did so compared to men (56%).

In fact, women outnumber men in all three of the lower age brackets.

What’s particularly interesting is that the younger the age bracket, the wider the gap between the men and women in each bracket. For example, in the 25–29 bracket, there were only 7.7% fewer men marrying at this age than women. In the 20–24 bracket, the difference creeps up to 20.8%. But in the youngest bracket, male teens were 61.1% less likely than female teens to marry.

Or in other words, brides were 2.6 times more likely to be teenagers than grooms were, compared to 1.3 times and 1.1 times for the early and late 20s brackets.

And if brides were more likely to be teens than grooms were, that means that older men were more likely to marry teens than their teen counterparts.

In the chart above, we see that while there still is a significant number of teen grooms who married teen brides (83), 75% of the grooms were in their 20s and 30s, with 3.2% of those being in their 30s.

Compare that with women who married teen grooms:

First off, there are far fewer women marrying teen grooms than there are men marrying teen brides (129, compared to 332). Men were 2.6 times more likely than women to marry a teenager.

Second, clearly, the vast majority of the brides who married teenagers were teenagers themselves. Nearly twice as many teen brides married teen grooms, compared to those older than that, with no one in their 30s marrying a male teen.

When everyone hits 30, however, it all flips.

And this sort of makes sense. If the number of the total brides and grooms are the same (13,044) and the number of brides under 30 years old is higher than the number of grooms of the same age, then of course there will be fewer women left over the age of 30.

Whereas women outnumbered men in every age bracket under 30 years, men outnumber women in every age bracket above 30 years.

Now to be fair, while men were far more likely than women to marry someone who was younger than they were, there were still a few women who married a younger groom.

In fact, the one outlier was a woman in her early 70s who married a man in his late 40s. No men in their 70s married women younger than 50. In every other age bracket, men outnumbered women in marrying a younger spouse.

How does this compare to other years?

Well, look at this chart. It shows the difference between the number of brides under 30 and the number of grooms under 30.

For example, in 2001, there were 9,111 brides under 30 and 7,803 grooms under 30, a difference of 1,308. That difference is what’s represented on the graph for the 2001 datapoint. Same goes for the other years.

What we see in the above graph is that the gap between the number of young brides and the number of young grooms has trended upwards. In other words, there are increasingly more young brides than there are young grooms.

Not sure why there was such a huge drop in 2018. The number of young people marrying that year dropped in general (from 16,274 in 2017 to 15,722 in 2018), but the number of young grooms actually went up (7,272 vs 7,219). Young brides, on the other hand, declined from 9,055 in 2017 to 8,449 in 2018. Still not sure why though.

Anyhow, here’s another chart. This one shows how much more likely it was for a young person getting married to be a bride instead of a groom.

In 2001, young people were 14.36% more likely to be a bride than a groom. That number kept creeping up until 2017, when it topped out at 20.28%.

Then it dropped to its lowest level over the 19-year period, to 13.92%. So, still more likely, but not as much as in previous years. For some reason.

I guess we’ll see as time goes on whether this was an outlier or part of a new trend.

Here’s another chart. This one shows the number of brides and grooms under 30.

Unsurprisingly, there are consistency more women than men marrying for their first time while under 30 years old. I find it interesting that the peaks and valleys of the data for both groups seem to run in parallel to each other. Although the grooms’ dataset seems to trend downward more than for the brides.

Actually, let’s add trendlines:

So, it turns out that both groups are trending downward; however, the gap between the two seems to widen over time, with the grooms declining at a faster rate than the grooms.

However, given the huge drop in both the grooms and brides after 2014, I wondered if that was affected the trendlines, so I created a chart with trendlines but only up until 2014.

So, this data shows something quite interesting. For the 15-year period between 2001 and 2014, grooms under 30 were still trending downward (just not as much), but brides under 20 were actually trending upward.

It’s interesting that the data between 2015 and 2018 is trending downward for both groups. Perhaps the drop in 2018 for young brides wasn’t anomalous after all, but part of a larger trend. I’m still curious as to why it was such an abrupt drop for brides in 2018, especially considering young grooms increased that year.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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