Dating longer lower divorce rate
In particular, they argue that marriages can no longer be characterized as having household specialization and children as the central tenet.
These changes mean that couples today have different expectations about the benefits of both forming a union and formalizing that union through marriage.
But while many trends can be documented easily, Stevenson and Wolfers find that figuring out how they affect marriage rates and family composition is a trickier task. Not surprisingly, their statistics show that today, members of the opposite sex are increasingly likely to be "sharing living quarters." And, cohabitation is more and more the preferred "stepping stone to marriage." Stevenson and Wolfers report that in the early 2000s, 59 percent of married couples had lived together before tying the knot.
While couples who cohabit prior to marriage have historically exhibited higher divorce rates, Stevenson and Wolfers observe that there is research showing that pre-marital cohabiting may be more common among those with greater uncertainty about either their compatibility or the benefits of marriage.
Thus it may be that divorce-prone couples cohabit, rather than that cohabiting causes divorce.
This rate is going down even when taking into account that there are fewer marriages.
"For marriages that occurred in the 1950s through the 1970s, the figures clearly show that the probability of divorce before each anniversary rose for each successive marriage cohort," they write.
Looking to the future, Stevenson and Wolfers wonder what new forces will emerge to shape marriage and divorce decisions.