It seems almost hammered into us: the divorce rate is 50 percent. Half of all marriages end in divorce. One out of every two marriages will fail. It is said with such regularity that most of us don’t even bother to challenge that notion anymore.
But according to a new report, we should be thinking more critically about marriage and divorce. If we looked closer at the statistics around those two institutions, we would likely find that the divorce rate has been falling in recent decades, especially among younger people.
Specifically, the Census Bureau’s periodic report on marriage and divorce has found that people under the age of 50 are less likely to fall into the category of “ever divorced” than a decade ago. But for people over 50 – the baby boomer generation – the number who listed themselves as “ever divorced” has remained constant or increased.
This trend began in the 1970s, when women began working outside the home in much greater numbers, giving them the financial independence they needed to leave unhappy marriages. That started a societal shift that continues today. Now, statistics indicate that the median age at first marriage has increased by about three years for men and six women.
More importantly, people have a “greater sense of marriage as being a less secure institution,” says one expert, and are therefore proactively working to evade divorce by taking longer and working harder to find a spouse that is a good fit for them.
What do you think? Has the divorce rate dropped in the past few decades?