Monday, September 18, 2023
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Most wives in America still take their husband’s last name

While many Americans are putting off marriage and having kids, most women who marry have carried on the tradition of taking their spouse’s name.

(CN) — If she’s wearing a ring, chances are she changed her name too. Four out of five married women adopt their husband’s last name, according to a Pew survey published on Thursday.

“It's fair to say that it's a societal norm for women to take their spouse's last name when they get married,” said Juliana Horowitz, associate director for social trends research at Pew. “We still see majorities of two-thirds or more across educational attainment and partisanship and ideology and age.”

Pew polled 2,437 people in opposite-sex marriages in April, as well as 955 unmarried U.S. adults as part of the research institute’s longitudinal American Trends Panel. Pew did not collect enough data on same-sex couples to identify any trends.

The survey also filtered out responses from divorced and widowed couples.

While 80% of married women polled reported taking their husband’s last name, 14% said they kept their maiden name and 5% chose to hyphenate the two.

The same poll found 92% of men kept their last name after marriage while 5% took their wife’s name and fewer than 1% hyphenated the two.

However, the tide may be turning, as only a third of unmarried women polled said they planned to take on their spouse’s name if they become married, while 23% said they would want to keep their name and a quarter of women said they weren’t sure what they would choose after they said "I do."

Younger, more educated and liberal-leaning women are more likely to keep their maiden name compared to women over 50, without a college degree and who identify as conservative Republicans.

Ninety percent of conservative Republican women reported changing their last name, compared with 66% of liberal Democrats.

At 9%, Democrats represented the largest share of women who hyphenated their names. Women who earned post-graduate degrees were most likely to keep their last name.

Race also proved to be a contributing factor, with 30% of Hispanic women reporting to have kept their last name compared to 10% of White women and 9% of Black women.

The findings come as fewer Americans are getting married than in previous years, with larger shares of people choosing to remain single or cohabitate.

“When we ask other questions about gender roles, we know that increasingly, marriages are becoming more egalitarian,” Horowitz said. “We know that women are more likely than it's been in the past to work outside the home, and we know that men, fathers in particular, are spending more time with their children.”

While trends in marital names may reflect changes in gender roles, Horowitz added that changing a name is a personal decision. More research is needed to determine whether more or fewer women are changing their names now than in years prior.

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