Divorce is an unfortunate fact of life. People fall in and out love, relationships change, and eventually many marriages dissolve. There are nearly infinite possible causes for divorce and predicting or generalizing about how it comes about is very difficult. Over time however, there do appear to be some trends and patterns in divorce across the country.
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Great Divide: Six Divorce Trends of Today
About 45% of marriages in the United States will eventually end in divorce. But while it might happen to less than half of the populace, divorce affects us all: whether you’re divorced yourself, the child of separated parents, or even (so far) happily married, it’s likely that divorce has affected your life in many unexpected ways.
1. Divorces have been increasing for a while
a. Rate of Marriage vs Divorce: The US divorce rate is often claimed to be skyrocketing. But it’s actually been on a decline since 1981, as has the country’s marriage rate. It’s only logical: fewer marriages make for fewer divorces.
2. Women initiate the majority of divorces
a. 66% of divorces are initiated by women. Many reasons for this disparity have been proposed, including considerations of spousal abuse and child custody. Women are more likely to get a divorce if they have high levels of economic independence and social acceptance of the choice.
3. Grey divorce is a rising phenomenon
a. While overall divorce rates are going down, among the older generations it’s on the rise.
4. Key factors decrease the likelihood of divorce
a. The national average of divorces remains fairly constant. But as an individual, your chances of divorce are unfortunately tied to a handful of factors that many have little control over. If someone has a $50,000+ annual income then they are 30% less likely to get divorced than someone with a $25,000 annual income. If someone has a college education then they are 25% less likely to get divorced than someone with no college education. If someone has a baby after marriage then they are 24% less likely to get divorced than someone who has a baby before marriage. If someone has been married after age 25 then they are 24% less likely to get divorced than someone who is married before they are age 18. If someone has a religious affiliation then they are 14% less likely to get divorced than someone who has no religious affiliation.
5. Divorce rates also fluctuate by region
a. Your likelihood of getting a divorce can also be reflected by where you live. For example, the West Coast has far higher divorce rates than those in central region of the country.
6. Children of divorce can be deeply affected
a. For children of married parents with a high income, approximately 100% of children will also have a high income.
b. For children of single parents with a high income, 13% of children will drop to a lower income.
c. For children of married parents with a low income, 17% of children will rise to a higher income.
d. For children of single parents with a low income, approximately 100% of children will also have a low income.
70% of children with divorced parents, vs. 40% of children with parents still married think that divorce is an adequate answer to marital problems.
While a lot of the numbers on divorce can be sobering, it’s important to remember that people are not statistics. If you have been through a divorce, this does not necessarily mean these trends will reflect your life.