The divorce rate is the lowest it’s been in 40 years, so maybe we’re not all doomed
For years, the “half of marriages end in divorce” narrative has been shoved down our throats. It’s nearly impossible to think about marriage without simultaneously thinking about divorce. Breathe a sigh of relief, ladies, because new data from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research shows that the divorce rate is the lowest it’s been in 40 years.
Your marriage having a 50/50 chance at survival hasn’t been true since the early ’80s, and divorce has been declining since the ’90s, although the myth lives on. A close look at the National Center for Family and Marriage Research data for 2015 shows the divorce rate was 16.9 divorces per 1,000 American women (age 15 and older), which is down from 17.6 in 2014. In 1980 the divorce rate peaked at 22.6 percent, which means there’s been a 25 percent drop since then. The total number of women divorced in the U.S. last year was about 1,111,000.
All is not well for certain women, though, considering the numbers are based on age, location, employment status, and education. For example, women in D.C. have the highest divorce rate at 29.9 percent, with Wyoming and Nevada following closely behind. Meanwhile, women in Hawaii have the lowest divorce rate at only 11 percent.
It’s unclear what the cause of the drop stems from, but reportedly, young people are at least partially responsible. Studies show millennials are the generation least likely to marry. But Americans as a whole are waiting longer to get married, and fewer are getting married altogether.
This reminds me of an amazing Twitter thread on divorce where a Muslim woman discussed immigrants who gleefully boast about their country’s divorce rate being lower than America’s, which author Arnessa promptly rips to shreds. “I’m also exhausted at immigrants who brag about how the divorce rate is so much lower back home as if it is an accomplishment,” she wrote. “The reason divorce rates ‘back home’ are so low is because of societal expectations that force women to stay with their husbands.”
She proceeded to tackle the romanticized view of “back in the day” marriages where couples stayed together for 50+ years. To her, the ability for women to divorce in America means freedom. “The romanticized idea of women staying with their husbands ‘no matter what’ is so damaging, toxic, and abusive,” she tweeted. “Spare me the ‘ha ha ha America has such a high divorce rate and we don’t.’ We don’t get to brag about it when our women are forced to stay. I get a lot of crap for being a divorced single Muslim mother and honestly the stigma is totally worth the freedom I get.”
Hopefully the myth that half of divorces are doomed dies a quick death. If not, at least we can all breathe a little easier knowing the odds are more in our favor than not.