Americans may be postponing marriage, and fewer are wedding at all. But what about the people who do get married? They’re staying together longer than they have in years.
Three in four couples who married after 1990 celebrated a 10-year anniversary, according to census statistics reported Wednesday. That was a rise of three percentage points compared with couples who married in the early 1980s, when the nation’s divorce rate was at its highest.
One reason for the increase, said demographers and sociologists who study families, is that people are marrying later in life, after they have completed their education. Not only are they more mature, but they also are more financially secure.
Researchers increasingly are finding a connection between marriage and education. In 2009, 31 percent of brides had a college degree, up from 21 percent in 1996.
“Marriage has become a much more selective institution in today’s society,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. “People who are college-educated, more affluent or more religious are more likely to get married and stay married. People who are not are less likely to get married in the first place, and if they do marry, they’re more likely to divorce.”
The Marriage Project has found that people without a college degree are three times as likely to divorce in the first 10 years as those with a college degree.