The best age to get married is shifting higher in the minds of Americans, with 25 now viewed as the ideal age for women, 27 for men.

That’s up from an ideal age of 21 for women given in 1946. Americans then thought men should be 25, according to a new Gallup Poll reporting the change in attitudes.

The poll showed that America’s opinion about the best time to get married has shifted dramatically over the last 60 years.

Secrets of Happily Married Couples

Newlyweds’ 5 Biggest Pitfalls

Best Age for ‘I Do’

In 1946, 50 percent of Americans said women should be married by age 21, and only 4 percent said women should be over the age of 25 when they marry.

In contrast, this year’s annual poll showed the number of Americans who favored women marrying by the age of 21 had dropped to 20 percent, while the number preferring an older age (30 years or more) for brides had tripled from 4 percent to 12 percent.

As for men, only 11 percent of Americans today say men should be married by the age of 21, while those who believe a man should be at least 30 before he walks down the aisle also nearly tripled, from 11 percent in 1946 to 30 percent in 2006.

In addition, only 44 percent of Americans said men should be married by age 25, compared with 70 percent who felt that way 60 years ago.

Researchers say that despite the age shifts since 1946, the belief that men should marry at a later age than women has been consistent over time.

They also found the ideal age voiced for marriage did not vary much by the respondent’s gender, age, or religion.

However, those with a high school education or less were four times more likely than those with some college to say a woman should be married by 21.

Unhappy Marriage Raises Women’s Heart Risk

By Jennifer Warner, reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

SOURCES: Gallop Poll, conducted via telephone, May 8-11, 2006, among a national sample of 500 adults aged 18 and older. News release, Gallup News Service.