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The other ‘marriage story’: divorce is at a 40-year low

The rise of divorce and the decline of marriage following the sexual revolution have destabilised the family life of two generations and have been the source of much unhappiness both for children and parents. We have lamented these trends often enough on MercatorNet, and a new movie dramatises the pain of divorce in wrenching detail.

But there is another, true and encouraging story about divorce – not the much bruited “good divorce” but the fact that divorce is in a four-decade decline, and family stability indicators are ticking up.

Writing in USA Today before Christmas family scholar Brad Wilcox and Institute for Family Studies blog editor Alysse Elhage highlighted three positive trends in the US: the continuing decline of divorce; falling births to unmarried women; and a rising share of children being raised by married parents. Divorce, in fact, has been falling since its peak in 1980 and is predicted to decline further.

At the same time British family advocate and researcher Harry Benson reported that marriages are lasting longer in the UK. Including couples who marry overseas, he finds that for marriages starting today, the median duration before divorce or death would be 40 years, not the 30 years estimated by the Office for National Statistics, let alone the oft-quoted “12 years”, which is the average duration of marriages ending in divorce, not all marriages.

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