According to The New York Times’ Claire Cain Miller, the conventional wisdom that half of all marriages end in divorce and that the divorce rates are climbing is wrong — divorce peaked in the 1970s and 1980s, and has dropped ever since.
“It is no longer true that the divorce rate is rising, or that half of all marriages end in divorce,” Miller wrote. “It has not been for some time. … Despite hand-wringing about the institution of marriage, marriages in this country are stronger today than they have been in a long time.”
The drop started in the 1990s. About 70 percent of couples who got married in the 1990s made it to their 15th anniversary, which is 5 percent higher than the amount of couples who made it to the same anniversary in the 1970s and 1980s, Miller wrote. The trend is expected to continue into the 2000s.
“If current trends continue, nearly two-thirds of marriages will never involve a divorce,” Miller wrote.
Divorce rates have declined namely because of later marriages, changing gender roles and “love-based marriage” (or, marriages based on love) in the country, Miller wrote.
Later marriages are a trend I wrote about back in October. Since the Great Recession of 2008, women have found more job opportunities than men, giving them a leg up in becoming the breadwinner at home and causing many of them to seek out men who have their finances and future secured.
Young millennial women are also sidestepping marriage to focus on personal goals ahead of forming a family, according to Deseret News National’s Emily Hales. Young women are putting other priorities — a career, having children and cohabitating — ahead of marriage, even though it’s something they really want, Hales wrote. It doesn’t help, either, that young marriages are also more likely to end in divorce, the Pew Research Center found, which has motivated youngsters to wait for marriage.
It’s not all about finances, careers or stability, though. Some people are choosing to marry just for love, Miller wrote.
“It’s just love now,” Justin Wolfers, an economist at the University of Michigan, told the Times. “We marry to find our soul mate rather than a good homemaker or a good earner.”
But only time will tell whether or not the divorce rate is truly declining. Family Studies reported older men and women, especially baby boomers, are divorcing at unprecedented rates. And if you adjust the current divorce rates by age, the divorce rate actually peaked in 2011 with a 40 percent increase, Family Studies reported.
"In the 1970s, Boomers, who were then in their twenties, and middle-aged couples were more or less equally likely to divorce," Kay Hymowitz wrote for Family Studies. "By 1990, that was no longer the case; couples in their twenties and early thirties were looking more stable, while Boomers, now in their forties, continued to divorce 'at unprecedented rates.'"
And many divorce rate numbers don’t take into account the rise in cohabitating couples, who don’t always marry but still end up in separation, as Bradford Wilcox wrote about in 2013.