(Nov. 12) Trends on marriage in America appear to have become one of those (Champagne) glass-half-full propositions.

The empty part of the glass is a continued decline in the rate of people marrying in the first place. The full part of the glass is that once people marry, they are less likely to divorce than at any time in half a century.

Such are the statistics reported in new numbers from the Census Bureau. As summed up by the Institute for Family Studies, the divorce rate is just 14.9 out of every 1,000 marriages, below the prior half-century low of 15 in 1970 and well down from its peak of 22.6 in 1980. The median duration of marriages has grown since 2010 from 19 years to 19.8 years. And some 58% of married people say that the current pandemic has made them appreciate their spouses even more than before.

That’s all good news. The bad news is that the marriage rate also hit an all-time low. For every 1,000 unmarried adults in 2019, just 33 got married, compared to 85.9 in 1970. That’s a far larger drop in marriage rates than the decline in divorce.

In sum, more and more people are reluctant to marry, or unable to find a willing partner, but once they do so, the marriages are more stable than 50 years ago.

Even for those of us usually of an optimistic bent, the combination of these trends makes the glass somewhat more than half-empty. If the marriage rate is dropping faster than the divorce rate, the end result is fewer marriages — period. This is worrisome.

Countless studies through the years have shown a clear and direct correlation between marriage and economic stability and a much greater degree of measurable social ills among those who are unmarried.

A prototypical vicious cycle ensues….

[For the rest of this short magazine lifestyle piece, follow this link.]


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