Thursday, April 2, 2015

Divorce Rate is Going Down

By:  Carole L. Chiamp

“The divorce rate today – 3.6 divorces per one thousand couples per year – is at its lowest level since 1970...  For marriages that occurred in the 1950s through the 1970s, the figure clearly shows that the probability of divorce before each anniversary rose for each successive marriage cohort.  For first marriages that occurred in the 1980s, the proportion that had dissolved by each anniversary was consistently lower and it is lower again for marriages that occurred in the 1990s1.”

Marriage rates are the lowest now than they have been in the last century, but divorce is less likely than it was 30 years ago.  A paper completed recently2 claimed “fertility and pregnancy control made possible by the ‘pill’ and legalized abortion may help to explain the recent decline in divorces and a rise in out-of-wedlock births”.  These interesting and unexpected trends make clear that it is time to reassess our views of the “American family” given the relatively new and evolving conditions that now determines whether people marry, stay single or break up.

Factors such as the birth control pill, higher income for women and greater access to education all play a part.  For more information on this subject check out “The Changing Nature of Marriage by Matthew Davis, National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

1, 2.    Marriage and Divorce: Changes and Driving Forces, (NBER Working Paper 12944), Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers.