America’s divorce rate hits 50-year low, likely to continue drop during pandemic

by Jenny Mount · Nov 11th, 2020 3:51 pm

Last Updated Nov 15th, 2020 at 8:38 am

The U.S. divorce rate hit a 50-year low in 2019, according to recent census data.

Wendy Wang, director of research for the Institute for Family Studies says the data, derived from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, is "great news" for America's families and children.

"It means that their marriages will likely be more stable, and their children will be more likely to grow up with two married parents, which provides them the best chance for success later in life," Wang said.

Data show that 14.9 marriages per 1,000 ended in divorce in 2019, the lowest rate in the U.S. since 1970.

Wang believes the drop in the divorce rate will likely continue. According to new data from the American Family Survey, 58% of married Americans say "the pandemic has made them appreciate their spouse more and half agree that their commitment to marriage has deepened."

"Moreover, initial data from some states suggest that divorce filings have indeed declined," Wang said. "It is likely that divorce may increase a bit after COVID-19 because of the pent-up demands, but the overall decline in divorce appears to be a consistent trend."

Even though the census data show a drop in the divorce rate, it also revealed an all-time low in the marriage rate in 2019.

"For every 1,000 unmarried adults in 2019, only 33 got married. This number was 35 a decade ago in 2010 and 86 in 1970," Wang explained.

She also pointed out a disparity between income classes.

"College-educated and economically better off Americans are more likely to marry and stay married, but working-class and poor Americans face more family instability and higher levels of singleness," Wang said.

According to Wang, the gap between income classes is a "marriage divide."

"With the rates of both divorce and marriage dropping in America, we expect to see the marriage divide deepen and poor and working-class Americans increasingly disconnected from the institution of marriage," said Wang. "The impact of this disconnection on our family lives can be destructive, which makes it an issue that policymakers, community leaders, and scholars should continue to pay attention to."


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