There’s been a lot of discussion about a new topic recently- how and why are Millennials causing divorce rates to decrease? According to a study conducted by Philip Cohen, a Sociology professor from the University of Maryland, the overall divorce rate has dropped 18% from 2008 to 2016. Although the divorce rates continue to increase for those over 45, they continue to decrease for those under 45. By analyzing these new demographics, the answers become evident.
Let’s start by looking at the generation where divorce became so common. The Baby Boomers began divorcing so much between the ages of 55 to 64, that the numbers literally doubled from 1990 to 2015. This trend has been dubbed “grey divorce” due to the ages of those who decide to finally cut the knot they once tied.
The rise in divorce numbers for Baby Boomers could be because there is now less of a stigma associated with those who decide to separate, allowing those who aren’t happy to finally call it quits in the marriage and live the rest of their years more happily. Baby Boomers married much earlier in life than what’s seen today.
The reason that Millennials are being pegged as the cause of the divorce rate to decrease is due to the high percent that the Baby Boomers continue to divorce, according to these new studies.
Although there has been a decrease in the overall number of marriages amongst Millennials, Cohen’s study factored this in by calculating the ratio of divorces to the number of married women. This shows that even though there are less marriages, those that do decide to tie the knot, have a higher chance of staying together.
The question remains though- why is this? Millennials are marrying at older ages than previous generations- waiting until their careers, finances and general goals for their lives have been sorted out. Marriage has become more of an achievement of one’s (or a couple’s) status rather than being perceived as simply “what you do”. Therefore, more time and thought is being put into the decision process. Before a Millennial decides to say “I do” at the alter- they want to be sure of the decision he or she is making.
There are a multitude of theories behind this, one of them being- do Millennials want to make sure that he or she does not make the same mistake that his or her separated parents made? Are the couples being more pro-active in thinking about their future and their children’s futures, making sure that their kids don’t have to grow up with divorced parents?
There is however, a growing number of couples who choose to live together and raise kids together without ever tying the knot demographics show. And unfortunately, these relationships also have shown to be less stable than in previous years.
So, although there is an overall decrease in divorce rates amongst Millennials, it does not necessarily end with a ‘happily ever after’ for America. Because with it comes a wider separation of social inequality, becoming visible now through the decrease of those who choose to get married at all.