September 3rd, 2010
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: email@example.com
The divorce rate has long been a sticky statistic, with some figures functioning as projections, or using experiences from one generation to draw conclusions about the unions of others. Most statisticians agree that overall divorce rate has been on the decline since the so-called “divorce revolution” of the 1970s.
The CDC data more closely points to what actually happened with marriages, Prof. Wilcox says. As the downturn wears on, the divorce rate decreased more from 2008 to 2009 than from 2007 to 2008.
The downward trend in the divorce rate from 17.3 in 2005 to last year’s 16.4 speaks to the historical trend of the number of divorces in a downturn decreasing, even in an era when many couples waiting longer to get married and have kids. Legal fees, a dreary real-estate market and other economic malaise might be causing some couples to hold off from divorcing. Others may be banding together in tough times.
Over the long term, low-income families are more likely to divorce, but in the short-term, it would seem the recession is holding people together. I’m left to wonder if there will be a big spike in divorce once the US experiences some substantial economic growth?
By the way, at least up until the most recent data available, the US continues to have the highest marriage rate, as well as the highest divorce rate. And, as Carter and Glick pointed out in 1976, the US has always had the worlds highest divorce rate. This was true back in 1900, when the divorce rate was only 5%. The history of divorce in the West basically has a simple story: it was illegal during the Middle Ages when the Catholic Church ran everything, then it was made legal by the early Protestant reformers, and it remained legal for as long as the first generation of Protestant leaders remained alive. I am unsure why the early Protestant reformers felt that divorce was important, but apparently they felt the Bible gave this right to women (I am also unsure why it was seen as a women’s issue – something about escaping abusive husbands and equity). By the mid-1600s all the Protestant countries had again made divorce illegal, and it remained so until the Protestant countries re-legalized divorce at the end of the 1800s. Since the US was founded by the more radical Protestant groups, divorce remained legal in parts of the US even when it was illegal everywhere else.Source