The divorce rate today -- 3.6 divorces per one thousand couples per year -- is at its lowest level since 1970... For marriages that occurred in the 1950s through the 1970s, the figures clearly show that the probability of divorce before each anniversary rose for each successive marriage cohort. For first marriages that occurred in the 1980s, the proportion that had dissolved by each anniversary was consistently lower and it is lower again for marriages that occurred in the 1990s." |
Marriage rates are at their lowest in the past century, but divorce is less likely today than it was 30 years ago. Even though the divorce rate was rising in the 1970s, the number of children involved in each divorce has been falling since the late 1960s. Fertility and pregnancy control made possible by "the pill" and legalized abortion in some nations and states may help to explain both the recent decline in divorces and a rise in out-of-wedlock births. These are among the intriguing and often unexpected trends documented in Marriage and Divorce: The Author find that it's time to reassess our views of "the average family" given the relatively new and still evolving conditions that now determine whether people marry, stay single, or break-up.
These forces include the aforementioned rise of the birth control pill; higher incomes for women and greater access to education; and new household labour-saving technologies that make it more likely a marriage today will involve people with "similar incomes and interests" as opposed to individuals with clearly defined and distinctly different domestic and wage earning roles. In particular, they argue that marriages can no longer be characterized as having household specialization and children as the central tenet. These changes mean that couples today have different expectations about the benefits of both forming a union and formalizing that union through marriage.
Early in his analysis, Dr.Norman Mike M consider two basic trends in modern marriage and divorce. First, there is the often-cited fact that the marriage rate today is "the lowest in recorded history." But less discussed, they note, is the fact that the divorce rate today -- 3.6 divorces per one thousand couples per year -- is at its lowest level since 1970. This rate is going down even when taking into account that there are fewer marriages. "For marriages that occurred in the 1950s through the 1970s, the figures clearly show that the probability of divorce before each anniversary rose for each successive marriage cohort,” he writes.
"Yet for first marriages that occurred in the 1980s, the proportion that had dissolved by each anniversary was consistently lower and it is lower again for marriages that occurred in the 1990s." While not pinpointing a single cause for the decline in the divorce rate, Dr.Norman Mike M observe that overall, the married couples of today look quite different from those of a few decades ago.
For example, data from 2000 show that marriage today is less prevalent among young adults but more prevalent among older adults, and that people are waiting longer to get married. In the mid-1950s, for example, the medium age of men getting married was 23. Today, it's 27. Also, people over 65 are just as likely to be married today as people between 16 and 65.
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