03 Mar Divorce Isn’t Declining; Marriages Are.
In our society we often follow what is going on in the lives of celebrities. From the fight that Justin Bieber had with a DJ to Miley Cyrus breaking up with Liam Hemsworth. There is something always happening with celebrities, and far too often it is celebrity couples getting divorced. For example not too long ago we heard about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes ending their six year marriage. Who would have ever thought those two would ever end it all. Back in 2005, Tom Cruise was jumping on Oprah Winfrey’s coach declaring his love for Katie Holmes; it seemed as if they were a match made in heaven. What happened? It seems that these celebrity couples are madly in love and within years they are divorced.
Even though we constantly hear about these famous split ups, do they reflect the trends in society and are they impacting society as a whole?
According to the national vital statistics system in 2011 the United States divorce rate per 1,000 people was 3.6 . In 2000, the divorce rate per 1,000 people was 4.0. That only a .4 per 1,000 people difference looking at this eleven year time period, looking at these statistics divorce is declining in the nation. However, we also need to look at how many people are getting married back in 2000 there was 8.2 marriages per 1,000 people; in 2011 per 1,000 people it was 6.8 marriages. That is total decrease of 1.4 per 1000 people in this eleven year time frame.
Looking at these statistics we can conclude that marriages are on a down ward trend. However divorces are not they are staying about the same it looks like they are declining only because marriages are.
As we look at the trend of divorce in society we can then ask, what is the impact of divorce on society? A study that was done by Mark Rengnerus, called “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships?” Findings from the New Family Structures Study. This study is important because it looks at same sex marriages but also single parent homes and stepfamilies. As we look at stepfamilies and single parent homes, we can say that most of the time they are in those situations because of divorce.
The Mark Rengnerus study looks at families receiving welfare while growing up. Traditional two-parent families that received welfare growing up were 17 percent. Stepfamilies were 53 percent, and single parent families were 48 percent. That jump signifies something important. Those who have been divorced use a lot more of the government welfare services than intact biological families. Mark Renguerus also looks at those who are currently on public assistance. The percentage of those who are currently on public assistance is 10 percent for intact, first marriages, with 30 percent for stepfamilies and single-parent home. Divorce clearly has implications for broader society as others are force to pick up the tab for family breakdown or for the failure to form families at all.
How do we decrease the amount of divorces in the nation? The answer to that question is highly complex, but first we need to look within ourselves and decide, unequivocally, that we will not allow ourselves or our children to be part of the divorce statistics. Educate others as to the harms of divorce and make a commitment to not accept divorce as “just the way it is.” However we do it, it is clear that children, adults and society will be better off.
Matthew Carter is from Lund, Nevada. He is a senior at BYU-Idaho studying Marriage and family studies. His goal is to be a marriage and family therapist.
“National Marriage and Divorce Rate Trends.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 Feb. 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2013
Renguerus, Mark. “How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same- sex Relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study.” Science Direct. Social Science Research, July 2012. Web. 11 Nov. 2013