While some people are panicking about how marriage doesn’t seem to last anymore, the divorce rate has been quietly decreasing for decades. In fact, the National Center for Marriage and Family Research says the divorce rate is at its lowest in 40 years.
We have all heard that frightening number about how more than half of marriages end in divorce, but as it turns out, it just isn’t true. In 2014, 38 percent of women over 72 who had ever been married had been divorced at least once. This was one of the highest numbers of any age group, and it still didn’t come close to the dreaded 50 percent mark.
There are disagreements about the proper way to calculate divorce rates, but no matter the approach, almost everyone agrees that the rate is going down.
Why is the Divorce Rate Going Down?
There are many different explanations for why divorce rates might have decreased. One of the more popular theories has to do with how people decide to get married in the first place.
Younger generations are waiting longer to get married and being more selective about their partners. It’s possible that this lowers the chances that they will regret their decision and get a divorce later in life. This is of course not the only possible explanation, but it does agree with the numbers. Millennials are the least likely of any age group to get a divorce.
In fact, the only age group that is seeing an increase in the number of divorces is couples over 50. In previous generations, it was very uncommon for couples to get divorced in their golden years. Boomers are breaking that tradition, however, as many untie the knot before starting retirement. The divorce rate among seniors has more than doubled in the past 20 years. Despite this large increase, the rate overall continues to go down.
Divorce certainly isn’t the stigmatized decision it used to be. As a culture, we are now far more accepting of the potential benefits. Overall, the numbers seem to show that while divorce is fairly common in this country, so is a lasting marriage.