Divorce is both a very personal and common issue not just in the United States but in the entire world. During the years divorce rates have been increased considerably in the United States. Some see this increase as a sign of social and moral disruption whereas some consider it a sign of increased individual liberty and failure of traditional social mores. Various factors have been associated with a higher risk for divorce. This paper provides an overview about divorce, its trends and consequences.
Divorce Rates in the United States
Over the years divorce rates have increased considerably in the United States. The Centre for Disease Control (2013) National Vital Statistics System places divorce rates in the United States at 3.6 per 1000 people for 2011 compared with a marriage rate of 6.8 percent in 2011. This means that 40 percent of marriages in the United States end up in divorce. This divorce rate is the highest in the civilized world. For instance, the divorce rate in the United States is triple that of Great Britain and France. In the United States, 23 percent of Americans divorce after five years of marriage as compared to only eight percent of French or British (McManus, 2011).
Why has divorce rates increased over the years? There appear to be many socioeconomic and cultural factors behind the high incidence of divorce in the United States. Earlier, the socioeconomic factors such age at which people first get married, marrying too young education and income levels, and lack of religion affiliation, and personal factors such as lack of commitment, infidelity, lack of equality in the relationship, lack of preparation for marriage were the most commonly cited factors for the high divorce rates in the United States (Hawkins and Fackrell, 2009). However, recently, the rise of expressive individualism in the United States, and high incidence of remarriages have also been considered as one of the major factors behind the high levels of divorce rates in the United States (Posada, 2012).
What effect does divorce has on adults and children? One of the major concerns of the increase in divorce rates has been its consequences on the well-being of adults and children. This question has raised a major interest among various social and psychological scientists. Research (Fagan & Churchill, 2012) indicates that divorcees and their children fare worse in several indicators of psychological, physical and socioeconomic well-being. For instance, there is increased occurrence of many physical health conditions and psychological distress among divorcees and their children.
Divorce also has important economic consequences and is among the main life events that can lead to poverty. Additionally, parental divorce has long-term effects on children’s life. As divorce affects the economic and psychological well-being of children, it ultimately lowers their socioeconomic attainment and physical and psychological well-being in adulthood. Additionally, children develop interpersonal skills that are not conducive to marital stability such as weakened ability handle conflict and hold positive views about divorce which may lead to an increased intergenerational transmission of divorce (Fagan & Churchill, 2013).
To conclude, divorce has the potential to cause major social, economic and psychological problems in the lives of adults and children. Some of these effects can be long-lasting. As pointed above, divorce is a personal issue, hence bringing stricter regulations and divorce legislations may not help in reducing divorce rates. Hence, it is important for policymakers to implement policies which may help divorcees and their children combat the various consequences of divorce.
Centre for Disease Control. (2013). National marriage and divorce rate trends. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/marriage_divorce_tables.htm Fagan, P.F., & Churchill, A. (2012). The effects of divorce on children. Retrieved from http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF12A22.pdf Hawkins, A.J., & Fackrell, T.A. (2009). What factors are associated with a higher risk for divorce?. In Should I keep trying it out (chapter 3). Retrieved from http://www.divorce.usu.edu/files/uploads/Lesson3.pdf
McManus, M. (2011, May 23). First in print: Why is America’s divorce rate the highest in the world. TheDailyReporter. Retrieved from http://www.thedailyreporter.com/article/20110523/NEWS/305239978
Posada, I. (2012, February 4). On the alleged death of marriage. Harvard Political Review.
Retrieved from http://harvardpolitics.com/united-states/on-the-alleged-death-of-marriage/
References: Centre for Disease Control. (2013). National marriage and divorce rate trends. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/marriage_divorce_tables.htm Fagan, P.F., & Churchill, A. (2012). The effects of divorce on children. Retrieved from http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF12A22.pdf Hawkins, A.J., & Fackrell, T.A. (2009). What factors are associated with a higher risk for divorce? McManus, M. (2011, May 23). First in print: Why is America’s divorce rate the highest in the world Posada, I. (2012, February 4). On the alleged death of marriage. Harvard Political Review. Retrieved from