Scholars at the Institute for Family Studies are reporting that even while the divorce rate has been steadily declining over the last few decades in the United States, that decline has picked up speed of late and brand new data indicates it has finally hit its lowest point in 50 years. In the world of family studies, this is stunning news.
Dr. Wendy Wang, the director of research at the Institute for Family Studies, explained, “For every 1,000 marriages in the last year, only 14.9 ended in divorce.” This comes from the newly released American Community Survey data conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. In 1970, 15 out of every 1,000 marriages ended in divorce that year. So fewer couples in the United States divorced in 2019 than did in 1970.
Even more remarkably, Wang holds that “the drop in the divorce rate is likely to continue in 2020, despite the pandemic.” As The Daily Citizen reported in late September, there are indications that the year of COVID has actually been good for marriages. Specifically, married couples age 18-55 who said their marriage was in trouble declined markedly from 40% in 2019 down to 29% in 2020, according to the American Family Survey.
Wang is not the only scholar seeing good news on the marriage front. Professor Philip Cohen, a noted sociologist of the family at the University of Maryland, explained in his paper The Coming Divorce Decline, that the risk of divorce is declining for younger couples, and projections show this continuing into the future. Cohen explains that while fewer people are marrying, the “United States is progressing toward a system in which marriage is … more stable than it was in the past.” This is demonstrated by the fact that, as he explains it, “the odds of divorce in the first decade or two of marriage fell” for those marrying from 1980 to 2010, and he projects this is continuing with even younger couples.
Wang agrees with Cohen, explaining that the duration of the average marriage has also increased by almost one year over the last decade. She added why this is such encouraging news, “It means that their marriages will likely be more stable, and their children will be more likely to grow up with two married parents, which provides them the best chance for success later in life.’
No other major family formation trend has turned around like this in the United States, not cohabitation, not the decline in marriage, or children living with single-parents, nothing.
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