Abstract

The divorce rate per thousand married women under 45 years of age in the United States increased by two–thirds between the mid-1950’s and 1970. During the same period, the remarriage rate per thousand divorced or widowed women under 55 years of age rose about one-third. By contrast, first marriages per thousand single women under 45 years of age declined by one-tenth since the mid-1950’s. These changes reinforce the general impression that a fundamental modification of life styles and values relating to marriage has been taking place. An analysis of nationwide data on birth cohorts from 1900 to 1954 demonstrates that early marriage has declined since the mid-1950’s but leaves open the question as to whether lifelong singleness is becoming more prevalent. The cohort study shows that the upward trend in divorce is not “phasing out” yet, as it did after World War II. An estimated 25 to 29 percent of all women near 30 years old now have ended or will end their first marriage in divorce. About four-fifths of these divorced women have remarried or probably will do so. Of all women around 30 years old now, some five to ten percent may be expected to experience divorce at least twice during their lifetime.

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