Americans under the age of 45 have found a novel way to rebel against their elders: They’re staying married. New data show younger couples are approaching relationships very differently from baby boomers, who married young, divorced, remarried and so on.
Generation X and especially millennials are being pickier about who they marry, tying the knot at older ages when education, careers, and finances are on track. The result is a U.S. divorce rate that dropped 18 percent from 2008 to 2016.
Demographers already knew the divorce rate was falling, even if the average American didn’t. Their question, however, was why? And what do current trends mean for the marital prospects of today’s newlyweds? One theory is that divorce rates are falling largely because of other demographic changes—especially an aging population. Older people are less likely to get divorced, so maybe mellowing boomers were enough to explain the trend.
An analysis of U.S. Census Bureau survey data, however, suggests something more fundamental is at work. Even when he controls for factors such as age, the divorce rate over the same period still dropped 8 percent.