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Delayed marriages may be causing drop in divorce rates

According to a new report from the United States Census Bureau, divorce rates for most age groups have dropped by an average of 5 percent since 1996. A sociology professor specializing in marriage and family demographics at the University of Texas at Austin believes that this may be due to an increasing trend of couples choosing to delay marriage.

He explained that 50 years ago, marriage was seen as the "first step to adulthood," whereas it is now "the capstone." The average age of both men and women marrying for the first time has increased significantly since the 1950s. While the average marrying ages were once 20 for women and 23 for men, as of 2009, those figures had increased to 26 for women and 28 for men.

Fifteen years ago, almost 20 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 29 who had previously been married were divorced. In 2009, however, only 14 percent of such women were divorced. Some experts attribute this change to the relatively newfound acceptability of cohabitation.

Interestingly, data shows that older couples may be an exception to this trend of declining divorce rates. The divorce rate among women ages 60 to 69 increased between 1996 and 2009, climbing from 27 percent to almost 37 percent. One expert suggested that older, more traditional marriages may have been rattled when women began working outside the home.

Similarly, studies also indicate that less educated couples are continuing to experience a higher divorce rate, while their more educated counterparts seem to be staying married longer.

As young people are increasingly focusing on their careers and other aspects of life before deciding to marry, it will be interesting to if we will continue to see a downturn in the peaking divorce rates.

Source: Fox 59, "Delaying the wedding, helping the marriage," 21 June 2011

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