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Declining Divorce Rates Among Millennials


The divorce rate in the U.S. has declined in recent years, including in Florida. A new analysis conducted by Philip Cohen, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, suggests that cultural shifts among the Millennial generation explain why fewer people are getting divorced. Indeed, according to a recent article on Cohen’s analysis in Bloomberg, “younger couples are approaching relationships very differently from baby boomers, who married young, divorced, remarried, and so on.” Instead of entering into marriages quickly and at young ages, Millennials by and large are “being pickier about who they marry,” and they are “tying the knot at older ages when education, careers, and finances are on track.”

Cohen’s analysis shows that, as a result of these shifting trends among Millennials (and some members of Generation X), we can trace a marked decline in the divorce rate in the U.S. between 2008 to 2016.

Analysis Ties Generational Shifts to Declining Divorce Rates

 For quite a few years now, demographers have pointed to a declining divorce rate in the country, which is coupled with a lower rate of marriage in many areas. However, many of those figures pointing out that the divorce rate had dropped could not explain it. Some wondered whether the declining divorce rate was simply linked to the declining rate of marriage, meaning that, when changing rates of marriage are taken into account, a similar percentage of people continue to get divorced. However, Cohen’s analysis shows that this is not the case. Instead, Cohen’s analysis presents evidence that “marriages today have a greater chance of lasting than marriages did ten years ago.”

The fact that the divorce rate has dropped is particularly surprising given that the divorce rate among the baby boomer generation has risen. To be sure, the term “gray divorce” refers to the increased rate at which marriages are failing in older populations. Yet despite the fact that more gray divorces are taking place, Millennial trends have led the overall divorce rate to wane. In large part, Cohen and other sociologists point to two key factors in Millennial marriages:

  • Age at marriage is rising significantly; and
  • Education level is rising significantly.

In other words, when Millennials do get married, they are doing so at an older age than previous generations, and they are doing so after completing at least an undergraduate education (and for many, after completing graduate or professional school).

Socioeconomic Biases in Marriage and Divorce Rates

At the same time, people in the Millennial generation who do not share in this educational model—those who do not complete high school or college—are tending to avoid marriage. In this demographic, people tend to cohabit and to raise children together, but they do not get married. While these segments of the population are not contributing to the divorce rate, studies show that these relationships tend to be “less stable,” which can be problematic for the family as a whole.

To be clear, the declining divorce rate on the one hand is a good thing since it signals that many Millennials are making more informed decisions about marriage. On the other hand, however, the declining divorce rate also suggests that getting married has become, for some, a “far more exclusive institution.”

Contact a Tampa Divorce Attorney

 If you have questions about family law matters pertaining to marriage, or if you have questions about filing for divorce, an experienced Tampa divorce lawyer can help. Contact Bubley & Bubley, P.A. to learn more about the services we provide to families in the Tampa Bay area.



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