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Still others pointed out that preliminary national data for the first six months of 1987 could indicate that the numbers in New York City may be a harbinger for the nation.

Although the number of marriages in the United States has declined in recent years, the first six months of this year indicate that the number of marriages has risen 3 percent. In New York State, the figure has increased 12 percent.

''It could indicate a reversal of a 15-year trend nationally,'' said Barbara Foley Wilson, a demographer with the Marriage and Divorce Statistics Branch of the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Md.

Mrs. Wilson, among many others, however, cautioned about making sweeping conclusions. She joined others in questioning the impact of the large population of new immigrants in New York City, the way records are tabulated and whether there is something special either about the location of New York City or the kind of lives its people lead to account for the high figures.

''We were wondering if there was anything peculiar to New York as versus other areas,'' said Arlene Saluter, a demographics statistician in the Marriage and Family Statistics branch of the United States Bureau of the Census. ''Do people from outside the city come there to get married? People go to Las Vegas to be divorced.''

Neil G. Bennett, associate professor of sociology at Yale University who concluded in a controversial report that women who postpone marriage until they are 35 years old only have a 5 percent chance to marry, said he found the New York City statistics ''peculiar.'' 'Short-Term Correction?'

''Why New York and not L.A.?'' asked Professor Bennett, dismissing the idea of trends involving the baby boom, fear of acquired immune deficiency syndrome and panic resulting from studies such as his. ''There are plenty of 30-year-olds in the rest of the country.''

Professor Bennett, who said the statistics in New York City were recorded before wide publicity about AIDS, also questioned whether the indications from the data were just wrong.

Cathleen Gerson, assistant professor of sociology at New York University and the author of ''Hard Choices: How Women Decide About Work, Career and Motherhood,'' said the rise in New York City could be a ''short-term correction'' for the depressed marriage statistics of earlier years. They reached a low point in 1977, when marriage licenses were issued to 108,298 people.

Nevertheless, at a time when the city's overall population has hovered at seven million, other population experts contend the rise in marriages is significant. Aging Baby Boomers

Mr. Salvo of the City Planning Commission said that while it was only a hypothesis, the theory pertaining to yuppies made the most sense. He pointed out that the baby boom years, considered to include births from 1946 to 1964, reached a peak in 1957 with 4.6 million births nationwide. He said that group is in its marrying prime if one calculates the numbers of those who ''are at risk to marry.'' Those who were born in the peak year of 1957 are turning 30 this year, which Mr. Salvo said was ''an interesting coincidence.''

People who are not concerned with marriage statistics or population trends have also noted the rise in marriages, particularly among older couples.

Hedda Kleinfeld Schachter, co-owner of Kleinfeld's, a bridal shop in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn with a national clientele, said her business is booming. She remarked that the brides are often in their 30's and want lavish weddings.

''These are women who are busy with their careers, and not the kind of women who used to sit home and dream of the man they would marry,'' Mrs. Schachter said. ''Still, when she finally does it she makes a bigger deal about it than 100 years ago. It's funny.'' Move Toward Tradition

Dr. Henry I. Spitz, who specializes in marriage therapy at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he is clincial professor of psychiatry, has also seen evidence of an increase in this older group.

''People years ago were content to just live together,'' Dr. Spitz said. ''It was the learner's permit type of model, without legal commitment. A lot of people stayed in the living together stage. But today I see lots of people who want traditional marriages. It sounds corny. They want one person to be with. The issues now are career and family and they don't want to hassle with dating. People are petrified to be alone.''

Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld, a psychiatrist in Manhattan, said he sees an increase in the numbers of men and women in their 30's who want to marry after putting off the decision for years.

''We have a cultural ideal of the individual as isolated,'' Dr. Rosenfeld said. ''I don't think it's human. It's very cold at night.''

Andrew Cherlin, professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University and the author of a popular textbook entitled ''Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage,'' said that while the increase in marriages was worth noting, it was important to point out that it comes nowhere near the 50's, when well over 90 percent of all men and women married at some point. The current marriage projection is between 85 percent and 90 percent. He disputes the possibility that high marriage rates in New York are tied to a rebirth of romance.

''I don't see any evidence that romance is back in, or that it ever left,'' Professor Cherlin said. ''People want intimate relations just like they always have.''

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