Divorce isn’t going away, and it may be bigger than many previously thought.
The rate of divorce has only gone down 2.2 percent since 1980, as opposed to the previously reported 20 percent, according to Family Studies, which recently commented on a new research paper regarding divorce.
The paper, written by Sheila Kennedy and Steven Ruggles, shows that "when you control for the change in the age of the population between 1980 and today — the population of married men and women is considerably older now — the divorce rate has actually risen 40 percent," writes Family Studies reporter Kay Hymowitz. "By these measures, after a brief pause in the recessionary year of 2009, the divorce rate peaked in 2011."
Who or what is to blame for these rates?
Family Studies said it might be the baby boomers, who “joined the divorce revolution early on and have stayed true to it ever since.” It could be due to the economy bouncing back and people being able to afford legal fees and housing changes, according to a story by Sam Clemence for Deseret News National.
According to the paper by Kennedy and Ruggles, young people aren’t suffering from the same high divorce rates as their babyboomer parents. But the answer to that may be in the facts about cohabiting. Younger people are forgoing marriage altogether and simply cohabiting and are marrying later, which comes with its own challenges.
National Marriage Project Director W. Bradford Wilcox shared this statistic indicating the aversion to commitment among cohabiting couples in an article on The Atlantic last year.
"Fifty-two percent of cohabiting men between ages 18 and 26 are not 'almost certain' that their relationship is permanent. Moreover, a large minority (41 percent) of men report that they are not 'completely committed' to their live-in girlfriends," according to a paper by sociologists Michael Pollard and Kathleen Mullan Harris, which Wilcox cites.
And, as Family Studies noted in its piece, “Divorce: It’s Way Bigger Than We Thought,” cohabiting isn’t helping union instability, as "cohabiting unions have always been less stable than marriages."
“Our results document striking growth in turbulence since the 1980s,” the authors of the research paper concluded, according to Family Studies.
So what is the real state of marriage in America? It's hard to tell, but one thing is clear — divorce rates look worse than many previously thought.