Being Picky Might Be the Key to Avoiding Divorce, New Study Finds

Updated 09/26/18
Bride and Groom
Jose Villa

My parents got divorced when I was 19, and in the years that followed, well-intentioned friends and family were quick to remind me that divorce is not only common, but it happens more frequently than not. While it's true that about 40% to 50% of married couples in the United States do inevitably divorce—a statistic that's painfully hard for any romantic to swallow—it seems as though the tides may be changing.

A new analysis of U.S. Census data done by University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen found that the divorce rate in America declined by 18% from 2008 to 2016. According to him, this drop is thanks to Generation X and millennial women. While the data shows divorce rates have risen for older women, they've fallen for younger women.

Cohen found that newly married women were more likely to be over the age of 25 in their first marriages, have a bachelor's degree or higher level of education, and were less likely to have children going into the relationship. These characteristics differ from those of the baby boomer generation, who typically married young and continue to see high levels of divorce today.

Interestingly, according to the data Cohen analyzed, more and more people are opting to share a life together without marrying. He suggests that those who do marry stay together because they're more selective. They wait to make things official until after finding success living together and both partners have high levels of financial interdependence.

"The trends described here represent progress toward a system in which marriage is rarer, and more stable than it was in the past," Cohen writes. It seems as though taking your time and being a little picky about who you choose to spend your life with may really pay off in the long run.

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