Earlier this year, the U.S. Census Bureau reported a decline in divorce rates across the nation from 2008 to 2018. In the same 10-year period, divorce rates dropped even further in Pennsylvania than in the U.S.
Looking at these trends offers some ideas about why marriages tend to last longer than they used to both in the state and across the U.S.
Census data showed that the rate of divorce among Pennsylvania women dropped from 8 per 1,000 in 2008 to 6.5 per 1,000 in 2018. In comparison, the national divorce rate for U.S. women declined from 10.5 per 1,000 to 7.7 per 1,000.
Potential factors in the decline
Why are fewer people ending their marriages? While scientists are not exactly sure about the driving factors behind this trend, some of the theories include:
- Fewer marriages: If fewer people get married, fewer divorces naturally occur. According to Census data, annual marriage rates in Pennsylvania dropped from 16.6 per 1,000 to 14.4 per 1,000.
- An older average age at the time of marriage: In general, people wait longer to get married than they did in previous decades. The higher wealth and education level among individuals marrying for the first time correlates with a lower divorce rate.
- Less stigma about cohabitation: More people live with their partners and raise children without marrying, a demographic shift that may contribute to the lower divorce rate.
One demographic group, the baby boomer generation, does show a higher than average divorce rate over time. Researchers speculate that many of these individuals have married a second time, which increases the risk of divorce.