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Millennials are Driving Divorce Rates Down in the U.S.

Over recent decades, the concept of what marriage is has evolved to represent an equal front shared by both partners in the relationship. Marriage is a commitment that two people share with each other to support and build each other up even through overcoming obstacles. This definition of marriage has even expanded in some states to include individuals of different sexual orientations, allowing individual love to triumph even in previously unconventional contexts.

During the recession between 2008 and 2011, divorce rates began to dwindle. Research into this phenomenon showed that the recession acted as a mutual obstacle that couples found easier to overcome together. Providing a loving partnership during the recession ultimately helped couples across the country, though the horrendous economic conditions could have torn previously happy couples apart. This silver lining astonished many, though historically it seemed to reflect previous fluctuations in marriage during similar conditions.

According to these same fluctuations, divorce rates should have started increasing around 2014, when the economy seemed to adequately recover from the previous recession period. Despite the assumption that divorce rates would pick back up again, this hasn’t occurred yet, even in 2019. New studies have found that something outside of the economy has impacted the country’s divorce rate: millennials.

How are Millennials Decreasing the Divorce Rate?

It might seem odd to credit a single generation with decreasing the incidence of divorce, but it seems that the evolution of what it means to marry has deeply impacted this group of individuals, two generations after the baby boomers, who married, had kids, divorced, and married again. In the past, it seemed that marrying and having children was the right thing to do socially, even if it meant settling with an unhappy marriage.

The Rise of Feminism

With the following waves of feminism, the concept of marriage began to shift for women. This impacted not only what it meant to love your spouse, but what it meant to be ready to marry that person. Millennial women, in the best way possible, have become much pickier in how they choose their partners, basing relationships off of love rather than status. Women are now waiting until they are ready to establish lifelong partnerships with people that they truly love.

Instead of marrying in the hopes of finding a wealthy husband, or achieving some form of high status, women find themselves unable to settle the way females in the baby boomer generation might. Though this does not imply that all baby boomers married based on circumstance, there was still a higher incidence of divorce and unhappiness in marriages resulting from feeling like both partners had to stay together to keep up appearances. Now, women are reluctant to settle for those that they cannot see a happy future with.

Moreover, women are now waiting until they can take care of themselves to start a family. In the past, women generally relied on men to provide income. This is no longer the case. Women have proven to be more than capable of supporting themselves independently. However, this means seeking job opportunities, traveling to chase rare opportunities, and doing the things they couldn’t do if they settled down immediately. By taking advantage of these opportunities, many millennial women give themselves time to explore and chase their independent dreams while knowing they can always start a family when they are ready.

Though this means the marriage experience happens later in life for many millennial women, it ultimately just results in a more stable, loving base to build a marriage off of. Ultimately, this has kept divorce rates low since the recession.