Millennials are in marriage to win, not divorce

Posted On October 30, 2018

We Generation Xers and Baby Boomers are well attuned to what we perceive as millennial flaws. They’re not good with commitment, we believe. They don’t know how to overcome adversity. They expect things to be handed to them. They don’t do well when conditions in the workplace or in life aren’t what they consider ideal.

There’s something else we don’t talk about as much, however, that millennials also don’t do well: divorce.

Bloomberg recently cited a study by University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen that showed the divorce rate has dropped 18 percent from 2008 to 2016. What’s more, he found that even when he controls for factors such as age, the rate has still dropped 8 percent over that same time period.

Baby Boomers have continued to divorce at higher rates than younger generations even as they enter retirement, the Bloomberg piece notes – a phenomenon we examined earlier this year dubbed “gray divorce.”

It’s the younger generation that’s fueling the lower divorce rates. But why? Cohen sees the reasons as largely economic.

A couple years ago, we shared statistics from the Pew Research Center that showed millennials are getting married later than their parents and grandparents did. Part of the reason for this was economic (student loan debt continues to skyrocket) and part was societal: More women are entering the workforce and putting off marriage while they build their careers, and there’s no longer a stigma attached to people being unmarried into their 30s or even 40s.

While this ultimately means fewer young people are getting married, Cohen believes it also leaves the ones who do get married as being those who are in a better position to handle marriage financially and, therefore, less likely to divorce. “Marriage is more and more an achievement of status,” he said, according to Bloomberg, “rather than something that people do regardless of how they’re doing.”

So forget about the participation trophies. Millennials are in marriage to win, or they aren’t in it at all.

Categories: Generation Y / Millennials