Millennials are Lowering the Divorce Rate, Study Says
The millennial generation is not typically recognized for its commitment to pretty much anything. Until now. A study conducted by the University of Maryland found that Americans under the age of 45 are really committed to commitment itself.
From 2008 to 2016, the U.S. rate of divorce dropped by 18 percent. Experts believe the low rates of divorce can be attributed to millennials and Gen Xers delaying marriage until later in life. Many younger Americans view higher education, careers, and paying off student debt as necessary precursors to settling down.
In fact, Americans are waiting longer than ever to get married. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the average age of first marriage was 27.4 years for women and 29.5 years for men in 2017. The average age of marriage hovered around just 20 years in 1960.
Other demographers suggest the slowing divorce rate is simply due to the aging baby boomer generation. Older people are less likely to get divorced, so a divorce rate decrease can be expected as America’s largest generation advances in years.
Technically, both explanations are true. While the graying of Baby Boomers made the divorce rate gap between 2008 and 2016 more dramatic, it is not responsible for the entire trend. The University of Maryland study found the divorce rate dropped by 8 percent regardless of age.
Baby Boomers may be slowing down as they grow older, but the generation is still divorcing at record-breaking rates. According to Bloomberg:
Young people get the credit for fewer divorces because boomers have continued to divorce at unusually high rates, all the way into their 60s and 70s. From 1990 to 2015, according to Bowling Green’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research, the divorce rate doubled for people aged 55 to 64, and even tripled for Americans 65 and older.
Previous research supports the idea that waiting to marry will improve your chances of staying together. A 2014 study found that couples married at age 18 had a divorce rate of 60 percent, while the rate dropped to only 30 percent for those who waited until age 23.
Another study found a “Goldilocks” marriage trend where the divorce rate temporarily dropped for couples married in their late twenties but rose again for couples married in their mid-30s.
According to Psychology Today:
Sociological researcher Nicholas Wolfinger has discovered a startling new reality: His recent analysis of data from 2006 to 2010 in the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) reveals that getting married after your mid-30s is actually riskier than getting married in your late 20s—and that the best age at which to get married appears to be between 28 and 32. Before that age range, divorce rates are still decreasing; after that window, they begin to climb again.
… When he replicated the finding using data from the 2011-2014 NSFG, the same trend emerged.
Regardless of age and declining marriage rates, the latest University of Maryland study concludes that marriage in 2018 is a more stable institution than it was just 10 years ago.
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While it’s fascinating to examine divorce trends in the United States, the fact remains that every marriage is different. What works for one family may not necessarily be a healthy dynamic for another family.
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