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New Research Disputes Falling Divorce Rate

 Posted on December 00, 0000 in Divorce Rate

Divorce Rate, Dissolution of MarriageMuch like any subject in the current American consciousness, there are countless articles, papers, and research projects related to marriage and divorce being published seemingly every day. Researchers with infinitely varying philosophies and perspectives are constantly conducting studies on various factors and facets of modern relationships and what may be affecting them. It should come as no surprise that occasionally the findings of a particular study will appear to directly contradict the findings of another, or in some cases, a more widely held principle regarding marriage and divorce.

A recently published paper entitled "Breaking Up is Hard to Count: The Rise of Divorce in the United States, 1980-2010" by researchers at the University of Minnesota suggests that, contrary to widely held belief, the divorce rate in America is actually not declining. Authors Sheela Kennedy and Steven Ruggles instead posit that cultural shifts have resulted in a rising divorce rate, which may be obfuscated by the poor collection and organization of marriage and divorce statistics across the country.

Kennedy and Ruggles recognized the ability of individual municipalities and counties to maintain accurate records and accounting of vital statistics such as marriages and divorces. However, they noted that the federal government ended financial support for the detailed statewide collections of such information in 1996. Since then the state’s numbers were being submitted to the Census Bureau for tabulation, the lack of federal funding severely impacted many states’ ability to submit accurate records. By 2005, in fact, several states, including California, stopped reporting their information altogether.

By analyzing a separate set of data made available in the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the researchers estimated that in terms of raw percentage, the overall divorce rate has not dropped 20 percent since 1980 as some outlets have reported, but instead has dropped a mere 2.2 percent. More importantly, when adjusting the numbers for age, as the age of the married American population has been trending upward over that time, Kennedy and Ruggles calculated that the divorce rate has increased 40 percent.

Adjusting for age in their calculations is essential to produce an accurate rendering of the divorce rate for several reasons, the researchers insist. "Divorce rates have doubled over the past two decades among persons over age 35," they wrote. "Among the youngest couples, however, divorce rates are stable or declining." The research suggests, though, that younger couples are not just simply more committed to their relationships than older couples; rather, the opposite may be true. They are much more likely to cohabitate, possibly considering marriage at a later age which statistically increases the likelihood of divorce. Kennedy and Ruggles thus expressed concern that cohabitation has "an increasing impact on overall union instability." Additionally, relationships which never proceed beyond cohabitation are not able be included in official marriage or divorce statistics.

A single study is hardly definitive in terms of the true landscape of marriage and divorce in America today. The research does, however, does present an interesting perspective on the subject with rather some remarkable findings. If you live in Illinois and are currently considering divorce, social trends and the overall divorce rate are probably the furthest things from your mind. Contact an experienced Arlington Heights family law attorney at A. Traub & Associates today. We can help you address the concerns relevant to your situation and provide the representation you deserve throughout the divorce process.

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