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Divorce rates: Declining, but marriages are, too

If you have heard that divorce rates are declining, then you might think that is a good thing. However, just saying that divorce rates are declining isn't the whole story. In fact, while the divorce rate has dropped by around 18 percent between 2008 and 2016, that isn't actually accurate when you look at the whole picture.

Once you account for the rising age of people getting married in America, you find that the decline is actually only around 8 percent. That is still good, but the reality is that marriage rates are declining as well. One sociology professor put it bluntly: You have to get married to get divorced.

One of the reasons that divorces are happening less often is because college graduates are waiting longer to get married. By focusing on their careers and waiting longer to get married, they have financial independence and can wait for marriage until they are confident in their choices. When you are older, you are likely more mature and have a better job. Those things mean that you will have fewer arguments with your spouse.

More people are cohabiting today than in the past. This also helps lower the divorce rate, since fewer people are getting married. Today, there is not as much of a social stigma about getting divorced, but there is also not the stigma about getting married. More people are deciding it's not the right choice for them and are avoiding it altogether. Even if some do get married, divorce may still be a reality in the future for some couples.

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