While many Michigan residents continue to consider divorce, a recent article in Bloomberg reported that the U.S. divorce rate has reached “its lowest level in more than 35 years,” and is on a three-year decline. This information comes from data released by the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, which analyzes data from the U.S. census each year to determine trends surrounding marriage and divorce. In addition to declining rates of divorce, the Center also reported that marriage rates have increased slightly. Data from 2015 showed that the U.S. is experiencing the highest rate of marriage since 2009. According to Wendy Manning, the co-director of the Center, “the decline has stopped” when it comes to marriage.
What else do you need to know about marriage and divorce rates, and what they say about current family trends?
Divorce Rates Are Down, and Marriage Rates Are Up
When we say that divorce rates are at a 35-year low, what does that mean in terms of the total number of divorces? To give you a sense, divorce rates in 2015 were down to a rate of 16.9 per 1,000 married women aged 15 and older. That rate shows a decline from 2014, in which the rate was at 17.6. The divorce rate peaked in 1980, when the rate was at 23 per every 1,000 married women aged 15 and older. The article emphasizes that researchers cannot pinpoint why, precisely, divorce rates are showing a decline. It does indicate that “factors could include the aging of the U.S. population, changing gender roles, and the fact that there are fewer marriages to break up in the first-place.”
To be sure, just because divorce rates are lower does not mean that more marriages necessarily are succeeding, or that we can point to specific statistics to predict whether a particular marriage will last. If we look at marriage rates, we see that they have begun to increase slightly, but they are still substantially lower than they were several decades ago. In 1970, the marriage rate was at 76.5 per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15 and older. From that point forward, the marriage rate has shown a relatively steady and sharp decline. The lowest rate of marriage appeared in 2009. Now, that rate is up ever so slightly. According to the data, the 2015 marriage rate of 32.3 per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15 and older suggests that marriage rates are steadying.
Why Are Fewer People Getting Married and Divorced?
While researchers cannot explain with certainty why fewer marriages and divorces are occurring in relation to the early 1970s, we do have information about the ages of Americans who are making the decision to get married or to get divorced. As Manning indicates, “we’ve seen a decline of divorce among people who are younger and an increasing [in divorce] among people who are older.” In addition, we know that younger generations are waiting longer before getting married. The article clarifies that “these younger generations have pushed getting married further into adulthood.”
We can also trace shifts in marriage and divorce rates regionally. For instance, the highest rates of divorce last year were in Washington, D.C. (29.9) and Wyoming (27.9), followed by Nevada, Arkansas, and Alaska. Differently, the lowest rates of divorce were in Hawaii (11.1), Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Delaware, and New Jersey. Each of those states had divorce rates under 13 per 1,000 married women aged 15 and older. How about rates of marriage? The lowest were in America’s northeastern states in 2015, while the highest were in Utah (61.3).
Regardless of when and where you get married, however, sociologists still agree that “the typical marriage today still has about a 50/50 probability of lasting, the same chance it had decades ago.”
Contact a Michigan Family Law Attorney
If you have questions about pre-marital agreements or filing for divorce in Michigan, an experienced Clinton Township family law attorney can speak with you today. Contact Iafrate & Salassa, P.C. for more information.