The number of women keeping their maiden names after marriage peaked in the 1990s, when about 23 percent of married women decided to buck the name-taking tradition, according to a 2009 study published in the journal Social Behavior and Personality. The same research found that the number decreased to about 18 percent in the 2000s, although it’s worth noting that a woman’s age when she ties the knot seems to make a big difference; women who get married when they’re 35 to 39 years old are 6.4 times more likely to keep their names than women who put a ring on it between the ages of 20 and 24, according to a 2010 study published in Names: A Journal of Onomastics.
What’s up with the decline? It could be tied to the fact that the marriage rate in the U.S. is the lowest it’s been in more than a century, according to a report from The National Center for Family and Marriage Research; it’s entirely possible that, rather than holding onto their own last names after marriage, some women aren’t as interested in getting married at all.
Still, we were taken aback by the numbers-especially since there are so many valid reasons to want to keep your own name: You may have built up a professional reputation that you don’t want to compromise, you may feel like changing your name means sacrificing part of your identity, you may not want to imply (even in the slightest) that getting married means your partner is gaining “ownership” of you, you may want to honor to your family-and the list goes on.
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