Divorce Rates at an All-Time Low, Says New Study

npr.org
npr.org

According to statistics released by The Marriage Foundation, couples who get married today have just a 6.5 percent chance of divorce in the first five years, down 40 percent from the 1980s. Couples who got married in 1986 and 1988 have the highest likelihood of getting divorced, 44.4 percent.

The Marriage Foundation analyzed statistics regarding likelihood of divorce in the first five years and over the entire course of the marriage. While couples who got married in 1986 and 1988 have just a three percent chance of getting divorced now, overall, 44.4 percent of all marriages in 1986 and 1988 already have or will eventually end in divorce. For 2008, 38 percent of all marriages will end in divorce, down nearly seven percent from the 1980s.

Astoundingly, just 6.5 percent of marriages today will end in divorce in the first five years. The Marriage Foundation analyzed statistics from the 1960s, noting the sharp increase in divorce after the marriage reform act in 1969. Before 1969, couples could only get divorced if one was at fault, i.e. by committing adultery. Today, reasons for divorce are much more nuanced.

After 1969 when the act was passed, divorce rates rose to 35.3 percent, and then to 44.4 percent in 1986, and then back down to 38 percent in 2008. Experts speculate that this is due to people today cohabitating before marriage and experiencing hesitance to enter marriage after watching so many of their own parents go through a divorce.

The age people are getting married is also increasing. In the 1980s, the average age of brides and grooms at the time of marriage was 23 and 25, respectively. By 2011, these ages had risen to 30 and 32, respectively.

According to the foundation, “Men’s commitment is all about buying into the future, making a decision. So among those who do marry, there are fewer ‘sliders’ who marry without really buying into it and more ‘deciders’ who really mean it.” Because men benefit more from marriage than do women, fewer women are being put through marriages that don’t mean anything to their husbands.

These shockingly low rates may also be due to the fact that fewer people are getting married in general. Combining the skepticism of younger generations with their intellectual prowess and increased drives to achieve individual success, it only makes sense that people are more inclined to focus on themselves and put marriage off for later.

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