Divorce rates fall – due to fewer marriages

Looks like divorce rates are down, but not for the right reasons.
Time has an article discussing the divorce rate and the corresponding lower number of marriages.

Adults these days, products of broken homes, are chosing to cohabitate rather than get hitched. This corresponds to fewer marriages and fewer divorces per capita (not per marriage).

One interesting point made in the article was this

Stephanie Coontz, who teaches history and family studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., says divorces are dropping in the college-educated sector because many spouses “are learning how to negotiate marriages based on less rigid gender roles than in the past.”

“College-educated wives are more likely to work than less-educated wives, and a recent study found that unlike the past, a wife’s work now tends to stabilize marriage,” she said.

Contrary to Coontz comments, college-educated mothers are choosing a more traditional gender role by staying at home with their children. Enough mothers are leaving their careers that it is causing some concern in feminist circles.

The debate is being fueled by “Vanity Fair” contributing editor Leslie Bennetts, who argues women face “tremendous dangers” by giving up financial autonomy to stay home with children, in her book “The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?” (Voice, $24.95).

The latest statistics show the percentage of working mothers with infants and toddlers has declined, albeit slightly, starting in the late ’90s — something Bennetts doesn’t see as a good thing for women. Married and in her 50s, with two teenagers, Bennetts says she is sounding an alarm for Generation X and Y mothers who she believes are living a fantasy that their lives will never be disrupted by divorce, unemployment or the death of a partner. If something bad happens, she said, these once-business-oriented stay-at-home moms think they can just jump back into the work force with little effort.

“I think women have been sold a bill of goods, and the media is partly to blame,” she said. “There are innumerable stories about the stresses of the juggling act. And then the stories about opting out. That’s only half the picture. It doesn’t talk about opting back in.”

Makes me wonder what the actual cause of our divorce rate is, what can be done about it and if the institution of marriage is ultimately doomed. I remember, as a kid, watching Sci-Fi movies depicting a future with a strange communal living environment. Now I’m beginning to wonder if that might actually happen…