Tuesday, August 13, 2019

How Many First Marriages End in Divorce?

The expected duration of a first marriage is eight years shorter than it used to be, according to a study by sociologist Arun S. Hendi of Princeton University in the journal Demography. Nearly all of the decline occurred between 1960 and 1980, with little change between 1980 and 2010.

In the 1960s, first marriages had an expected duration of 34 years. By 1980, the figure had fallen to 26 years. Behind the decline was the rising probability of divorce. In the early 1960s, the probability of divorce was 20 to 22 percent. By the early 1980s, the probability of divorce had more than doubled, rising to 48 percent. Since 1980, the probability of a first marriage ending in divorce has not increased significantly, and the expected duration of a first marriage has remained at about 26 years.

This is a surprising finding, Hendi notes, because it "lies in contrast to other recent reports that the propensity for divorce has either increased dramatically or decreased. Period estimates indicate that the reality lies somewhere in between." Between 1980 and 2010, he says, "the probability of a first marriage ending in divorce increased by approximately 1%."

Source, Demography, Proximate Sources of Change in Trajectories of First Marriage in the United States, 1960–2010, Arun S. Hendi, Volume 56, Issue 3 ($39.95)

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