Divorce rates in the United States may have increased because of a decreasing religious meaning behind marriage. In modern times marriage as an institution has become less associated with religion and more related to an official status for the government as well as friends and family to see. As marriage no longer has such a strong religious meaning people do not feel as obligated to stay together when things do not work out. Arguments may be made for both sides as to whether or not marriage should be considered a religious matter, but there are certain benefits for married couples including tax and insurance benefits which makes it apparent that some aspects marriage must be regarded as secular. No matter how you explain it, though, it does appear that there is a trend of increasing divorces in the US.
The degree of civilization of any particular place is calculated using certain statistics such as if the crime rate is going down or if the infant mortality is decreasing and life expectancy is increasing then it is an assured conviction that society is becoming “more” civilized. However, the rising divorce rates may signal an end to the concept of family in modern times. Recently, there’s been a flurry of takes about how the myth of a 50 percent divorce rate has been debunked although the American Psychological Association maintains that the divorce rate in the US stands between 40% and 50%. Using the latest American Community Survey data sociologists have declared that If the current divorce and widowhood rates remain unchanged, 52.7% of today’s marriages would end in divorce prior to widowhood.
Despite the shortcomings of the vital statistics on divorce, they provide an invaluable benchmark for evaluating alternative sources. As the errors in statistics often stem from under-reporting, we can be confident that “actual” divorce rates must be at least as high as the rates based on official divorce records for the population represented by reporting states. In periods of poor reporting, the official records doubtless understate divorce rates. However, there is virtually no potential for over counting of divorces in any period. Thus when we are evaluating other sources, the vital statistics define the lower boundaries for the number of divorces in the total population.
The new generation of millennials who typically have a propensity for cohabitating before committing to a marriage have a far lower rate of divorce than the older generation. In 1950s and 1960s, the age of first marriage was around 21 for women and 24 for men, and getting hitched was a sign that you’d become an adult unlike today where psychologists say the most significant markers of adulthood are independent judgment, individual responsibility, and financial self-sustainability. Generally divorce rates do not take into account changes in distributions of age, marriage duration, or age at marriage. Over the past three decades, the population has grown substantially older, the average duration of marriages has grown, and age at marriage has increased.
Since older people those who have been married a long time, and those who marry later in life are at comparatively low risk of divorce, one would anticipate a significant decline in divorce rates simply because of changes in the characteristics of the married population. However, age and duration specific divorce rates from vital statistics are no longer published, it is difficult to estimate how much of the recent change is merely a reflection of change in the demographic composition of the married population. Research also indicates that many young adults are opting to cohabitate rather than get married. This is a trend that continues to rise and as more adults choose to begin their relationships with cohabitation, the marriage rates are likely to continue to drop.
The spike in the divorce rates in the ‘60s and ‘70s represented a newly acquired right of self-determination for the women. However, the recent increase in divorce rates reflects how relationships have come to be viewed on a whole as voluntary rather than a mandatory commitment. We cannot assume a declining divorce rate as an unequivocal social good the same way that a declining murder rate would be considered. For as lovely as relationships can be, they have the capacity for horror: The CDC reports that one in three women and one in four men in the U.S. will experience physical violence, rape and/or stalking by their intimate partner in their lifetime.
According to latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau there has been a rise in the number of Maryland families led by single fathers and it has actually outpaced the rise in single-mother families for the first time since at least 1970 or as far back as the state data is available. There are now about 47,200 single-father households in the state, an increase of nearly 6,000 over 2000, or 14 percent. The number of families led by single mothers increased by about 5,000 over the past 10 years, or 3.2 percent. Although only 22% of single-parent households are led by men in Maryland the data suggest more parity than ever before. Experts attribute the change to a more flexible court system where joint-custody arrangements are far more common, and to broader career options for women.
An increasing trend of selectivity of marriage has been observed in recent times. Fewer young people are getting married. Compared with earlier generations, few of the young people who do marry are teenagers or high-school dropouts, characteristics associated with high divorce rates. This does not mean, however, that young people are at lower risk of union dissolution than were previous generations. As cohabitation has become more socially acceptable, Americans have become decreasingly less likely to marry their cohabiting partners and more likely to enter into multiple cohabiting unions. The story of divorce rates is ridiculously complicated. For one thing, there is no central data source that simply counts all divorces.
The National Center for Health Statistics used to divorces from states, but now six states don’t feel like cooperating anymore, including, unbelievably, California. Even if divorces are counted key information is oftentimes not available such as the people’s age or how long they were married or in the case of gay divorce, their genders. However the Census Bureau conducts a giant sample survey, the American Community Survey which gives us somewhat accurate data on divorce patterns, but the bureau only started collecting that information in 2008. However, the short answer is that divorce is more common than it was 75 years ago but less common than it was at the peak in 1979. What is the right amount of divorce that a society should have? It is an odd question but divorce cannot be treated as a crime or child abuse. Some divorces are necessary because otherwise people are stuck in bad marriages.
No divorce means even abusive marriages can’t break up and having a moderate amount of divorces could be construed that bad marriages can break up but people don’t treat divorce lightly. An excessive divorce rate means people are just dropping each other at the first sign of trouble. When you put it that way, moderate sounds best. No one has been able to put numbers to those levels, but it’s still good to ask. We shouldn’t assume families are always falling apart more than they actually do, we should consider the pros and cons of divorce rather than insisting that more is always worse. If you are facing or contemplating a divorce consulting an experienced law firm such as The Firm, LLC is a good idea.
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