Census Bureau Reports Divorce Rates Have Fallen Since 1996

BY: - 23 May '11 | Home

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A new Census report examines Americans martial patterns and trends and one nugget stood out from the rest – the divorce rate is falling. Yes, really.

From the article:

A  new report from the U.S. Census Bureau finds divorce rates for most age groups have been dropping since 1996 by an average of about 5 percentage points.

One reason that fewer couples landed in divorce court may be that people were waiting longer to get married and that about a third of men and women ages 25 to 29 have never married….

Since the ’50s, the median age of men and women marrying for the first time has increased, from age 20 for women and 23 for men in 1950 to 26 for women and 28 for men in 2009. And the percentage of men and women who have never been married is increasing in most age groups.

Why the delay? According to Kelly Raley, “People are waiting till they are settled in a stable job to get married.”

People feel more comfortable postponing their trip down the aisle thanks to the increased acceptability of cohabitation, Cherlin says.

“Fifty years ago, you had to be married,” he says. “Marriage used to be the first step in adulthood, and now it’s the capstone.” {source}

To me, this sounds like a smart move, considering couples with higher educational attainment (also examined in the Census report) tend to have stronger marriages.

What say you? Have you seen this to be true – have you seen more people getting married later in life? Do you really think couples who get married later (after the career is established, a home is purchased, etc.) have a better shot at “making it”?


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  • Anonymous

    I do believe that  it is better to wait until you are a little older. You  have a chance to live life, grow and mature, and have a better understanding of what you want  and need in a partner.  

  • http://www.izania.com Roger Madison

    We have been married 44 years, and we got married very young (20 years old — the children came later).   However, we advised our children to wait — until they had  a  stable financial foundation and career direction.   Both of our children were in their late twenties when they married.   I am pleased to report that they are still happily married for 10 plus years to their first and only spouses.

    Life is more complicated nowadays.    It takes longer to sort  through career choices and establish at least a medium term direction for  young people.   It is important that two people have a good sense of their direction and values before getting married.  


    • http://theyoungmommylife.com Tara Pringle Jefferson

      @Roger – I’m curious – did you have many troubles during those early years of your marriage – say, the first 5 years or so?  

      I know it was a different time then, but did you ever feel that your marriage was strong moreso because of the person you married versus how old you were when you got married? Does this make sense?  

  • http://www.izania.com Roger Madison

     Thanks for your question.   The troubles we had in the early years were more related to “getting to know each other and just growing up.”   At such a young age (after flunking out of college), I had not made a career choice, and my wife was still in school for a while.   Then we had the children, and you know about those challenges.  

    So, we had to make some parenting decisions (different than our parents), and work through the financial challenges of going back to school and me “getting my act together.”   I graduated from college at age 31.   My wife was very supportive through all those years of night school while I worked and she was a stay-at-home mom.

    What was different was that “community expectations” were supportive of making the marriage work.   From grandparents, parents, and other relatives and friends, the norm was “work it out and make it work.”   We had a lot in common since we came from the same community, with common values.  Our marriage just got stronger as we focused on being good parents.   We were young, but we had good compasses from each of our families.   Our parents had long and happy marriages.

    The greatest strength came from a stint in the military when we lived oversees away from relatives for the first three years of our marriage.   Our daughter was born in London, and we established our family alone, except for our new military friends. We created a new foundation of values that borrowed from our families, but we were able to work out our own solutions without interference.

    I hope this answers your question.


  • http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2011/06/01/divorce-rates-down-can-we-thank-no-fault-divorce/ Rusty Shackleford

    I wonder if the  prevalence of no-fault divorce might, perhaps counter-intuitively, be reducing the divorce rates, by causing couples to take a more matter-of-fact approach to the decision of whether or not to get married.    http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2011/06/01/divorce-rates-down-can-we-thank-no-fault-divorce/

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