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You Can't Get Divorced If You Don't Get Married

An Illinois newspaper recently published an analysis of vital statistics from four northern counties. The researchers were interested in finding out what was behind the recent decline in divorce. They wanted to go beyond the "typical," recession-related reasons found in previous studies. What they found was both simple and surprising: There are fewer divorces these days because there fewer couples get married in the first place.

The data was culled from marriage license records in Marshall, Bureau, Putnam and LaSalle counties. They found a significant drop in marriages over the past 30 years. Marshall County is on track to issue 65 percent fewer licenses in 2010 (49) than in 1980 (130). Bureau County dropped from 358 in 1980 to 171 in 2010, or 52 percent. Putnam County expected to issue 28 licenses by the end of this year, down 49 percent from the 55 issued in 1980. La Salle County expected a 31.4 percent drop, from 1,183 in 1980 to 811 this year.

So we have the numbers, but we don't have an explanation. The researchers consulted with several family life and law experts. The reasons they posited were varied. The "top three" for first marriages were a decline in pregnancies, social acceptance of cohabiting and education. The experts also suggested that the number of people who remarry is down for a completely different reason: estate planning.

In our next post, we'll talk more about these reasons and also touch on other trends that the researchers and their panel of experts discussed.

Resource: NewsTribune "'Til Death Do Us' Not" 12/08/10

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