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From Associated Press
By David Crary
NEW YORK (AP) — By the numbers, divorce just isn't what it used to be.
Despite the common notion that America remains plagued by a divorce epidemic, the national per capita divorce rate has declined steadily since its peak in 1981 and is now at its lowest level since 1970.
Americans aren't necessarily making better choices about their long-term relationships. Even those who study marriage and work to make it more successful can't decide whether the trend is grounds for celebration or cynicism.
Some experts say relationships are as unstable as ever — and divorces are down primarily because more couples live together without marrying. Other researchers have documented what they call "the divorce divide," contending that divorce rates are indeed falling substantively among college-educated couples but not among less-affluent, less-educated couples.
"Families with two earners with good jobs have seen an improvement in their standard of living, which leads to less tension at home and lower probability of divorce," said Andrew Cherlin, a professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University.
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We mentioned in the Dish back on March 28th that both divorce and marriage were on a downward trend. While no one challenged us on that finding, we felt it was worth reiterating. Currently, divorce rates are at their lowest levels since 1970, down from 33%. On the flip side, marriages are down 30% over that time. People are waiting an average of five additional years to get married compared to 1966. And we are 10 times as likely to ‘cohabitate’ as we were in 1966. All in all, America is not going to hell in a hand basket. The study also mentions that educated people are surviving marriage longer, possibly due to lifestyle considerations. If the trend for cohabitating keeps up, we may see an increase in common-law marriages. Seriously, they’re not just for rednecks anymore.