Are Millennials Lowering the Divorce Rate in the U.S.?
Yes and they are doing it in their own unique way
Millennials' dating practices are changing the divorce rate
A new report about the American divorce rate circulates online every few weeks. Recent reports claim that the divorce rate dropped due to Millennials' dating practices. In fact, divorce rates in America have steadily declined over the last 20 years.
As one example of the sharp trend the other way, the proportion of wives that divorced each year dropped by 18 percent between 2008 and 2017. Women under 45, particularly Millennials, powered these results.
The Pew Research Center defines Millennials as anyone born between 1981 and 1996. They make up the largest generation in America.
This article examines recent marriage trends to determine whether Millennials are lowering the divorce rate.
Different generations, different choices
Divorce statistics are fascinating.
Studying the divorce rates of different age groups can help us better understand how each generation affects marriage statistics.
You have the self-proclaimed, "Greatest Generation," "Silent Generation," and "Baby Boomers."
The Baby Boom generation refers to those born between 1946 and 1964. Boomers have the highest divorce rate in recorded U.S. history.
Not only that, but Boomers are the only generation to increase their divorce rate as they age.
The divorce rate has doubled for adults 50 and over and tripled for adults 65 and older since the 1990s.
Some scholars all but guarantee that the divorce rate will decline as Boomers pass away.
After the Boomers came "Generation X" and "Millennials."
The "myth" of the traditional marriage?
Millennials have different attitudes about love and marriage than previous generations. Some consider it an outdated institution. Others see no upside to it. We have even heard traditional marriages be described as a myth.
Millennials take their time to establish households
Millennials are less likely to live with a family of their own than previous generations at the same phase of life.
Approximately 55% of Millennials between 23 and 38 years old live with their spouse, child, or both.
In comparison, 66% of Gen Xers, 69% of Boomers, and 85% of the Silent Generation lived with their own families at the same stage of life.
Most Millennials are unmarried, and those that married did so at an all-time high average of between 28 and 30 years old.
Millennials do not want to follow baby boomers' footsteps
Business Insider reports that Millennials typically postpone marriage out of fear of divorce.
They are understandably protective of their independence and assets considering many are the children of divorced parents.
Marriage is a serious matter
The legacy of Baby Boomers gives perspective to why many Millennials delay marriage or choose non-monogamous relationships.
These behaviors could be protective measures against a traumatic divorce and not necessarily refusals to commit.
In reality, about 69% of unwedded Millennials would like to marry one day. Those that get married are more likely to honor their vows than previous generations.
Cohabitation Is often a step towards marriage
Many Millennials treat cohabitation as a pathway or prerequisite to tying the knot.
Cohabitants increased by 29 percent between 2007 and 2016, with 18 million Millennials.
In recent years, living together has become more a rite of passage than a faux pas. When cohabitating couples split, their separation does not get recorded as a divorce.
Vice coined "Millennial divorce" to describe an unmarried couple that divides their house and other assets after breaking up.
Millennials care about their financial health
A national survey found that Millennials are more fiscally responsible than Boomers and Gen Xers.
Millennials also face more student loan debt, poverty, and unemployment than their predecessor generations.
Accordingly, many Millennials delay or forgo marriage after considering marital and divorce expenses.
For example, the average divorce costs $15,000 to $30,0000 when litigated. They do not want to spend that money. Many cannot afford it.
Millennials have unconventional views on sex and dating, compared to prior generations
Social acceptance of sex before marriage has doubled in the last four decades.
Millennials are the generation most approving of premarital sex and frequently take the fast lane to hooking up.
According to biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D., "marriage used to be the beginning of a relationship -- now, it's the finale."
A Johns Hopkins University study found that 64 percent of Millennial mothers gave birth at least once outside of marriage, and about 50 percent birthed all their children without ever getting married.
Online dating is the norm and changed the game
This is not your grandmother's dating scene.
Heterosexual couples are more likely to meet a romantic partner online than through their family, friends, or similar contacts.
Researchers found that over a third of marriages between 2005 and 2012 began online.
Additionally, online couples reported more marital satisfaction and were less likely to break up than spouses who met offline.
Online dating outcomes may result from an online dater's access to many potential partners, ability to screen dates, and strong motivation to find a match.
It also helps that Millennials are more open-minded daters than previous generations in that they strongly support interracial and interfaith relationships.
Millennial women are happier single
Historically, marriage favored husbands and oppressed wives.
Up until 1974, a wife could not obtain a credit card without her husband's signature.
Even worse, all 50 states did not criminalize spousal rape until 1993.
Today's wives report less sleep, less sexual satisfaction, more depression, and more stress than single women.
Millennial women are more educated, protected under the law, and economically independent than previous generations.
Unlike previous generations, Millennial women do not have to resort to marriage to experience financial stability or motherhood in most cases.
Millennial actress Emma Watson describes herself as a "self-partnered" woman.
She spoke publicly against the "incredible amount of anxiety" society causes women to have if they are not married or raising children.
Millennials are redefining commitment
Millennials have normalized starting families and buying houses outside of marriage but within fulfilling and mature relationships
Could they bring a new wave of gray divorces as they age? This scenario is unlikely, considering the careful steps many of them take to avoid divorce.
Time will reveal how marriage evolves, how resilient millennial relationships are, and whether the divorce rate will continue to fall.
We hope you enjoyed this article.