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Has the divorce rate dropped?

In the 1970s, the rate of divorce skyrocketed in Las Vegas and throughout the U.S., due largely to changing societal views and pressures. Specifically, women left the home and entered the workforce in huge numbers, and their resulting financial independence gave many women the ability to leave marriages that were not working. That divorce ‘boom’ persisted throughout the decade, and many believe that it continued in the years since, resulting in the 50 percent divorce rate that statistics indicate is still in existence.

However, a closer look at marriage and divorce statistics seems to indicate that the divorce rate may not actually be as high as many of us think. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s period “Number, Timing and Duration of Marriages and Divorces” report, people under the age of 50 are getting divorced at much lower rates than their baby boomer counterparts.

The Census Bureau report divides men and women into age groups, and then further divides them into categories such as “never married” and “ever married,” and then further divides the married category into the sub-categories of “ever divorced” and “ever widowed.”

In the most recent report, the number of people falling into the “ever divorced” category fell significantly. In 1996, for example, 34.1 percent and 37 percent of men and women, respectively, who were between the ages of 40 and 49 fell into that category. In 2009, only 28.5 percent of men and 31 percent of women in that age group had ever been divorced.

In fact, all ages below 50 saw a drop in divorces. Researchers believe that the average delay in first marriages is a significant reason for this decline, stating that young people are taking more time to find a spouse and ensure that he or she is a good fit before deciding to get married.

Source: CNBC, “As Two-Income Family Model Matures, Divorce Rate Falls,” David Milstead, May 7, 2012

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