The Coming Divorce Decline

Philip N. Cohen , University of Maryland

This paper analyzes the odds of divorce from 2008 to 2016 (soon 2017), using multivariate models of marital events data from the American Community Survey. I find that the falling observed divorce rates over the last decade are apparent in the fully adjusted model as well. Further, age specific divorce rates show that the trend in the last decade has been driven by younger women (despite higher divorce rates among older women than in the past). Finally, I analyze the characteristics of newly-married couples over the last decade, and identify trends that portend further declines in divorce rates. Marriage is become more selective, and more stable, even as attitudes toward divorce are becoming more permissive, and cohabitation has grown less stable. The U.S. is progressing toward a system in which marriage is rarer, and more stable, than it was in the past, representing an increasingly central component of the structure of social inequality.

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 Presented in Session 90. Union Dissolution