Inspiration Report

America’s high divorce rate has been a source of sadness and shock for decades. For years, nearly half of America’s first marriages ended in divorce, and the majority of second or third marriages failed as well. That rate, however, is finally falling thanks to an unexpected group, millennials.

Recent data has found that the divorce rate in America has dropped nearly 18 percent over the last 10 years. Some have argued that the reason for the falling divorce rate was the simple fact that fewer young people were getting married when compared to previous generations. The divorce rate was still declining, however, even when the rate was calculated as the ratio of divorces to marriages. That means that despite many people claiming that younger generations do not understand the importance of marriage, millennials have a greater likelihood of having a successful marriage than their parents or older siblings.

Millennial marriages, many claim, are lasting longer because young people are waiting longer to actually tie the knot. Marriage no longer has a cultural deadline, and many millennials shun parental or familial pressures to marry and have children at young ages. Instead, many young people are waiting to marry until their education is completed, their career is on track and their financial situation is stable. Off the bat, this choice lessens the likelihood that financial troubles will stress their marriages to the breaking point.

Philip Cohen, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, agreed that the data was showing that fewer people are getting married, but those who do are the sort of people who are least likely to get divorced. “One of the reasons for the decline is that the married population is getting older and more highly educated,” he said. “Marriage is more and more an achievement of status, rather than something that people do regardless of how they’re doing.” Millennials are thus more invested in their marriages because they are a conscious choice rather than a dutiful response to a societal expectation.

Although the data says good things about the millennials who are getting married, far too many are opting to simply continue to cohabitate even when raising children. Studies have shown that this is a far less stable situation than a marriage, and those cohabitating relationships are steadily losing what little stability they once had. One can only hope the divorce rate continues to fall but that the marriage rate rises to fill the gaps.

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