Science Identifies Best Age To Get Married, Still Debating When To Have Kids

That depends on what, exactly, you mean by "best."

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Data geeks have been responsible for some of our most important discoveries over the past few years, including high-value baseball players, the nation’s best burrito, and now this: The ideal age to get married.

According to new research from The Institute Of Family Studies, it’s 32.

The report swings (and mostly misses) as a bunch of explanations, but states definitively that “prior to age 32 or so, each additional year of age at marriage reduces the odds of divorce by 11 percent. However, after that the odds of divorce increase by 5 percent a year.”

That’s cool if you’re thinking about popping the question, but how does it align with previous research on the best age to have kids?

According to multiple studies summarized in Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck? by Robin Marantz Henig and Samantha Henig, it depends on what you mean by “best.” Biologically, prime baby time for women is only ideal if they’re looking for a role on MTV’s Teen Mom. Kids born to 26-year-old moms are statistically least likely to have birth defects, but kids born to 32-year-olds have the lowest overall infant mortality.

If you want to tie the decision to the mother’s long-term physical well being it gets even more complicated — the answer depends on if you’re talking about energy levels, ailments and aches, chronic illnesses, or overall health. To save your calculator thumb, know that the average nets out at 31. But also know that the best age for a woman to give birth, in terms of her overall life expectancy, is 34.

Owen Lin

That’s a lot of squishy data to divine a “best” age from, but how about this: Get married around 30 and then have your first kid before 32. Your marriage will last, your kid will have a long, healthy life, and your wife will … have to sacrifice a few years on the back end. Well, “best” is a relative term, isn’t it?

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