The United States is almost 50 years into a women's rights reform that has changed the landscape of so many facets of daily life. From the bedroom to the family room to the boardroom, the push for gender equality has opened up so many possibilities. But did that include lowering the national divorce rate, as well?
If we're to believe the statistics, the lowering of the divorce rate is only one of the many improvements to daily life it led to. The most recent data shows that couples today are divorcing at much lower rates, with as many as 70 to 75 percent of couples making it to their fifteenth wedding anniversary. But what about the women's rights movement is the cause of the lowering? There are a few concrete answers there:
• The women's rights movement led to a wider availability of contraception. This led to a lower risk of pregnancy, and thus, fewer instances where women had to marry the father of the child.
• More access to higher education made it easier for women to find a career outside of what was "typical" for women in the 70s. These opportunities in the classroom and workplace allowed women to push marriage until later, when they're more established. The average age of marriage is 29 for men and 27 for women, seven years later than in 1960.
• That doesn't mean that women are focusing all their energy on work. In a somewhat twist to the trend, more career-oriented women are having children. According to the linked article, a new report by the Pew Research Center shows that the number of childless women (described as never having given birth) with advanced degrees was down a full 15 percent from 1994. Researchers suggest that changes in workplace policies and women in managerial and leadership positions are driving forces behind the change. While 80 percent of these women have children, 60 percent have at least two children. There was also a notable increase in the number of women that had three or more children. Fueled in large part by this demographic having larger families, the average number of children in an American family remains at two.
Image via Steve Rainwater on Flickr
Less Divorce and Larger Families: What's Contributing to This Trend? (Care2)