The Millennial Divorce Rate Is Falling For Two Wildly Different Reasons

My top three fears in life are raves, rats, and death but, if I had to throw in a fourth fear I would probably have to go with divorce. The concept of getting divorced absolutely terrifies me to my core. It's truly something I hope I never have to deal with and I do pretty much everything in my power to try to ensure that I never have to. Luckily for me and any other divorce-averse people in my age group, a new study finds the millennial divorce rate is dropping drastically.

How drastically are we talking here? Well, an analysis by University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen found that the U.S. divorce rate actually dropped almost 20 percent (18, to be exact) between 2008 and 2016.

Now, this could obviously be because older people aren't getting divorced as often as they might have when they were younger but, even when the researchers controlled for age, they found that the divorce rate still dropped eight percent over the same time period for young people.

Another possible issue with these findings could be the fact that the marriage rate has fallen over the past few decades, meaning there just aren't as many people getting married in the first place for divorce to even be an option. But, don't worry, Cohen also took that into account by doing his calculations by looking at the ratio of divorces to the total number of marriages.

So, no matter how you look at, the fact of the matter remains: young people are getting divorced less often than their older counterparts did. But why?

A lot of this could be a reaction to our parents, who seemed to have very little hesitation when it came to getting divorced. Baby boomers are notorious for getting divorced at, what Ben Steverman at Bloomberg describes as, "unusually high rates." Even as they're getting older, their divorce rates continue to increase. In fact, Bowling Green's National Center for Marriage Research found the divorce rate doubled for Americans 65 and older.

People in the following generations are taking a different approach when it comes to marriage.

The change among young people is particularly striking,” Susan Brown, a sociology professor at Bowling Green State University, said to Bloomberg of Cohen’s results. “The characteristics of young married couples today signal a sustained decline [in divorce rates] in the coming years.”

Another reason for this decline is that marriage is becoming more and more of an exclusive club as time goes on.

“One of the reasons for the decline is that the married population is getting older and more highly educated,” Cohen told Bloomberg. Fewer people are getting married, and those who do are the sort of people who are least likely to get divorced, he said. “Marriage is more and more an achievement of status, rather than something that people do regardless of how they’re doing.”

That last point is an important one to focus on because it means that this decline in divorce rate does not necessarily mean that every long-term relationship is going to last forever. More and more young couples are choosing to cohabit in lieu of getting married and studies show that these relationships tend to be less stable than ever before.

So, yes. Young people are getting divorced less and that's great. But young people in long-term relationships are still splitting up. It's just happening under less formal circumstances.

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