Here's a link directly to the Pew study which there have been so many newspaper stories about today. In one sense, it isn't news: marriage is at a record low, but it's been steadily declining for 50 years, mostly from increased age at first marriage, much more than from any abandonment of the idea of marriage. And therefore it has ALWAYS been at a record low, at any given time during its 50-year decline.
The study has many other interesting facts about particular demographic groups, including that the decline is mostly among less-educated people, and is worldwide including less-developed countries.
According to an analysis of marriage and divorce from 1860 to 1948, during economic hard times fewer people get married, but then fewer of them get divorced. The author, Thomas Cvrcvk, describes the trends like this:
Large marriage cohorts, formed in the years of economic expansion, disrupted in greater numbers… Conversely, during years of recession, many poorer couples were discouraged from marriage; smaller marriage cohorts with more resilient marriages were formed and their lifetime marriage disruption rate was lower.
So these fewer marriages, formed despite financial obstacles, may reflect the stronger relationships among couples considering marriage.
The US rate of divorces per married couple: 1.94 % in 2008. This means one out of every 52 couples divorced that year. The lowest was North Dakota with 1.43%. The highest was DC at 3.45% (although it has recently had the LOWEST raw per capita divorce rate.) Most states, though, generally seem at first glance to be higher on this scale if they have higher raw per capita divorce rates, and vice versa. The US per capita rate, in contrast, was 0.72% of the population divorcing every year, or 0.36 divorces for every 100 people. (It's now down to 0.68%, or 0.34 divorces, etc.)
US ratio of marriages celebrated to divorce granted: 1.83 in 2008. This number ranged from 3.1 in North Dakota to 1.3 in Delaware.
Kelly M. Roberts writes: The Healthy Marriage research collection: Trends, Attitudes and Social Implications is now up. Dan Hubler and I put a great deal of time into that project; much thanks go to coordinator Courtney Harrison, and reviewers Bill Coffin and Theo Ooms. Great reasource - quick access to many of the seminal articles building the foundation for healthy marriage.