Has there been bad data going around in regards to the divorce rate in the United States? Popular opinion had it that since the 1980s, the rate of divorce had been declining. The belief was that the children of the sexual revolution, according to researchers, "were better calibrated about how their family life would play out and were likely better matched for a life together based upon modern gender roles. As such, they were likely in a better position to have their marriages survive than were those marrying in the 1970s." Well, maybe not.
Demographers Sheela Kennedy and Stephen Ruggles at the University of Minnesota are challenging that narrative with a recently released study. They found that the divorce rate hasn't declined since 1980, it has only flattened. And when they controlled for changes in the age composition of the married population (the U.S. population was younger in 1980, and younger couples have a higher risk for divorce), they found that the age-standardized divorce rate has actually risen by an astonishing 40 percent since then.
And the culprits? Those born in during the Baby Boom of the post-World War II United States.
"The same people who had unprecedented divorce incidence in 1980 and 1990 when they were in their 20s and 30s are now in their 40s, 50s, and 60s," the report concludes. "The Baby Boom generation was responsible for the extraordinary rise in marital instability after 1970. They are now middle-aged, but their pattern of high marital instability continues."
For more: Divorce is actually on the rise, and it's the baby boomers' fault (Washington Post)