National Divorce Rates Falling

Aug 8, 2012 by

The latest report from the U.S. Census Bureau’s attempts to take the nation’s pulse through examining the hard data gleaned from that door-to-door effort contains some very interesting numbers related to marriage and divorce in the United States. It looks like the last fifteen years of endless reams of professional papers, along with reality TV shows and on-the-air talk show therapists weighing in on the subject may finally be having a positive effect in the area of divorce as the Census Bureau found that the divorce rates for most age groups have actually been dropping in this country since 1996 by an average of about 5 percentage points.

The divorce rate in the U.S. looks like it may have finally peaked for good, as the divorce rate spiked in the mid-80’s following the introduction of no-fault divorce laws in most states. Today, it appears the numbers are falling and the divorce rates for most age, ethnic and economic groups seem to have leveled off beginning in 2011. In the 80’s it appeared every marriage in the U.S. was at real risk of divorce as many different studies of marriage and family demographics tracking the changes in the population’s coupling patterns at the time showed the divorce rate was going up at an incredible rate.

Now, the numbers show a different and more positive story coming from several different angles. Fifteen years ago nearly 20% of women in the U.S. aged 25- to 29-years-old were divorced. The latest Census report now shows that particular percentage has dropped by nearly 30% to a much more manageable 14% of total women in the U.S. aged 25- to 29-years-old now being of divorced status. Of course, some sociologists have pointed out that the lower numbers of divorced women in this country may also be due in part to the trend of so many people aged 25 to 29 waiting longer to get married in the first place. American women in the age group 30- to 34 also saw a drop of about 20% in their combined divorce rate over the same period. The Census data did find one group that is not enjoying a lower divorce rate than it had over a decade ago in the rate of divorce among older women. Women aged 60 to 69 saw their divorce rate increase from 27% of all marriages in the late 90’s, to around 36% in 2011.

The latest numbers also show that married couples with two incomes today are usually more educated than they were a decade ago, and the resulting economic stability has served to strengthen more marriages overall. Some observers also point to the fact that the nation has shaken off the effects of the stress put on new marriages in the late 70’s and early 80’s when a huge number of women began entering the workforce, another factor that pushed up the divorce rate at the time. It appears the growing pains of the last two decades that resulted in so many divorces may now be easing. More young couples are waiting longer to get married, they are now more educated at the time of marriage, and the resulting greater family and marriage stability has resulted in a much lower overall divorce rate for almost every age group in the nation.

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