Declining Divorce Rates

Seven Reasons Fewer Americans Seem to Be Calling It Quits

In the last 20 years, divorce rates have dropped dramatically.

According to The New York Times:

Couples Married In Divorce Rate
1970 35%
1980 35%
1990 70%
2000 15%

Don’t be deceived by the table deceiving. Drastically declining divorce rates are logically the result of a rise in successful marriages going the distance.

Declining Divorce Rates: The Seven Factors That Contributed to the Drop

The divorce surge is over. Americans beat the long-held belief that 50% of all marital unions end like a coin toss. Identifying the cause of declining divorce rates requires that look at several different factors independently and as a whole. Each of their societal contributions affected the way Americans view and treat marriage.

1. Americans Are Waiting Until They’re Older to Marry

Individuals who marry in their later 20’s are likely to have a college degree. They’ve had plenty of time to work out their adolescent, game-playing behavior. And most have been through enough failed past romances to give them a more profound appreciation for their mate.

Year of Wedding Man’s Average Age Woman’s Average Age
1890 26 22
1950 23 20
2004 27 26


Both genders are waiting the same amount of time. They’re focused, problem-solving, retirement-planning, mature adults. Each can meet his or her financial needs without anyone’s help. When/if they enter into The Odd Contract that is marriage, it’s only after they’ve thought it through from a logical perspective.

Women initiate divorce proceedings 69% of the time. They’re statistically more prone to changing their minds than men. They should consider all of their partner’s qualities while the couple is still dating.

Contrary to what Benjamin Franklin allegedly said, save for tomorrow that which you could do today!

2. Truths About Successful Women

They earn 75 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. Yet, despite their mostly uphill trek, more women are achieving financial independence and success. They’re even getting there faster, younger.

The myth that women who are driven, ambitious, and successful are more likely to end up divorced is not true.

Women worked hard for a long time are more selective when choosing a mate. Selectivity pays off in a big way! Successful women are only 20% likely to divorce.

Financially independent women have stronger marriages. There may be a correlation between successful women and happier unions.


3. Single People Are Skipping Marriage Altogether

In 2014, Forbes reported that half of the US population was single. It’s an incredible increase! The 2010 US Census’ data claimed 45% of adults 18+ were single. That’s an increase of 5%!

Fewer folks are making the trip down the aisle. No clear end to the decline is in sight. And there’s no way to know if and when the situation will rebound.

4. Increase In the Number of Single Parent Households


Say what you want about ’em, but single parents well-respected as people who do it all. And they still manage to pull off miracles. We all have at least one close friend, raised by a single parent. This kid is usually the smartest friend we have.

Fifty years ago they were looked at as anomalies. Being widowed was the only socially acceptable form of single parent. Time has moved us forward.

Starting families out of wedlock (and without intentions of ever marrying) is normal today. Single parents are less inclined to marry as singles without children.

An Increase In In-Home Instability

Declining divorce rates don’t reflect across the board positivity. Fewer women are “waiting” until after college to get married, start families, and begin their married lives, opting not to go through any of it.

Economically challenged women who opted not to marry when they became pregnant were financially worse off at the end of their non-married relationships creating an unstable situation for the child.

“Experts have shown…that the children of single parents are at greater risk of everything from poverty to school failure to imprisonment. Their large numbers will almost surely help perpetuate inequality, poverty, and immobility.”

– Kay Hymowitz, Divorce Rates Are Falling – But Marriage Is Still on the Rocks, Time Magazine, December 3, 2014

Some single parents deconstruct mentally deconstruct their families. Separating one’s marriage from the family unit can create distance. Since you can theoretically have either one without the other, single parents tend to compartmentalize them individually.

The reasons for it are understandable (i.e., people compartmentalize multiple stressors to avoid constantly thinking about them). But Kay Hymowitz thinks it’s a primary cause of poverty among children.

5. Religion’s Popularity has Declined

Declining divorce rates are tied to the decline in the popularity of religion. As most religions condemn divorce, the opposite should be the case. It’s not.

The most popular faiths in the US operate under a patriarchal hierarchy. Women are taught to serve and obey their husbands without question.

Progressive Millenials have a more liberal view of the world than most other generations. They grew up surrounded by the controversy over legalizing same-sex marriage. Their values and their views were shaped by these events. They’ll slowly pull away from religious activities.

Relationships (romantic or otherwise) are based on:

  • Equally sharing duties and responsibilities
  • Moving as far away as possible from patriarchal households

They feel one of two ways about marriage:

  • Either marriage is too intense or serious a commitment to enter into lightly, or
  • The struggles over legalizing same-sex marriage have left them rejecting the institution of marriage altogether

6. Regular Use of Contraceptives Prevents Shotgun Weddings

Look it up! It’s 100% true!

Shotgun weddings rarely work out. Forcing a child to marry because of a pregnancy borderlines on abuse.

The de-stigmatized use of contraceptives has changed the fates of millions of young men and women. Teen pregnancy rates have dropped 50% and are at the lowest in 20 years!

It’s possible that it occurred in direct correlation with declining divorce rates. Fewer shotgun weddings equal fewer divorces.

People need to be free to choose their mate.

7. College Students and Graduates Are Less Likely to Divorce

More Americans than ever are crossing the stage on graduation day…in college!

  • In 1965, only 5.92% of the population was enrolled in college.
  • That figure climbed to 20.24% by 2015.

What does the number of college enrollees have to with the declining divorce rate? If you’re thinking it’s because educated singles are less likely to marry, you’d be wrong!

According to a Pew Social Trends report, divorce and education are linked. Based on research done in 2008 using 2007’s data:

  • 2.9% of all married individuals lacked a college degree or advanced training.
  • Comparatively, 1.6% of similarly aged college educated people divorced in the previous year.

The results reveal a correlation exists between a person’s educational level and their ability to maintain a stable relationship.

College students and graduates have developed the patience and discipline to work through disagreements.

Final Thoughts

A number of reasons exist for why divorce rates declined over the past few years.

Many of them relate back to changes in gender-related, societal expectations of people over recent decades.

Declining divorce rates can be attributed to a number of things. People are getting married later than before, shot-gun weddings are all but a distant memory as more and more young women gain access to birth control, and smarter, the population of smarter, more educated spouses is on the rise, bringing with it husbands and wives who are more patient than before and more willing to cooperate to resolve their conflicts.

The decline doesn’t show signs of stopping. OECD, the Organisation for Economic C0-Operation and Development forecasted continued yearly increases through the year 2030!

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