New Study Finds Millennials Are Less Likely to Divorce

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According to our parent's generation, millennials have ruined everything. Department stores, the 9 to 5 workday, and of course, our "snowflake" triggered attitudes. But the next time you hear someone bemoan the ravages millennials have scourged on as all, you might want to mention that there is one thing millennials apparently are doing right: marriage.  A new study has found that the divorce rate for millennials is significantly lower than 10 years ago, and a lot of that has to do with how our values differ from previous generations.

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The study, which was reported by Slate and conducted by University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen, found that overall divorce rates have fallen by 18 percent between 2008 and 2016. And that number was still low (about 8 percent) even when Cohen controlled for factors like age and demographic shifts.

"All signs now point toward decreasing divorce rates on a cohort and population basis, in the coming years," Cohen wrote. "This is remarkable, occurring as it does along with an increase in less-stable cohabiting relationships, and the growing cultural acceptability of divorce."

The reason why millennial marriages are succeeding, he explains, is actually because we are more selective about our partners and have different priorities than previous generations, including higher education and financial stability, which we are willing to wait for until we decide to tie-the-knot. Millennials are also much more willing to live together before entering a marriage and being single is less stigmatized, which means we tend to marry when we're older.

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Women in particular are the driving force behind these numbers. Unlike in the past, more women are seeking higher education and career advancement, which means they are willing to put off starting a family until they are in a stable position to do so.

"Over the last decade, newly married women have become more likely to be in their first marriages, more likely to have BA degrees or higher education, less likely to be under age 25, and less likely to have their own children in the household -- all of which suggests falling risk of divorce," Cohen explained. 

Conversely, this also means that marriage has become sort of a status symbol. In a report by the Brookings Institute, marriage rates in 2008 for college-educated women surpassed those of women without a degree for the first time in 40 years. Today, almost three-fourths of women in their early 40s with at least a bachelor's degree are married, but only just over half of women with a high school degree or less are married by the same age.

But overall, the shift for women to value education and stability makes for more stable and equal partnerships. "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," Cohen wrote. "Barring unforeseen changes -- divorce rates will further decline in the coming years."
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