Breakfast cereals, the diamond industry, mayonnaise and now… divorce is the latest thing that millennials are apparently ‘killing off,’ in America at least. A new study from the University of Maryland has found that the divorce rate in America has dropped by a massive 18 percent in the period between 2008 and 2016 – and it’s all down to millennials (typically defined as those born between 1981 and 1996) and, most specifically, millennial women.
Study author Philip Cohen, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, used data from the US Census Bureau to compare the number of divorces against the number of married women over that eight year period. Even when factors such as the ageing population were controlled, a drop of eight percent was still noted, and Cohen found that a 35-year-old millennial today would be more likely to reach their fifth wedding anniversary than a 35-year-old Generation X-er would have been back in 2008. So, why aren’t millennials as inclined to divorce as the previous generation?
According to Cohen, it’s all because millennials are waiting until their lives are in better order before tying the knot, giving their marriage better odds of success. ‘We see people getting married at older ages, people getting married with college degrees already. They are less likely to be already divorced or have children when they get married, both of which are risk factors for divorce,’ he says. Indeed, newly married women are now ‘more likely to have BAs or higher education,’ and ‘less likely to be under 25,’ according to the study.
However, this also means that marriage is becoming a more exclusive institution. ‘Marriage is more and more an achievement of status, rather than something that people do regardless of how they’re doing,’ Cohen explains, revealing that couples who are less economically stable might feel priced out of marriage.
‘The trends described here represent progress toward a system in which marriage is rarer, and more stable, than it was in the past, representing an increasingly central component of the structure of social inequality,’ he says.