Changing Trends in Marriage and Divorce
The article “Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces” was researched and written by Betsy Stevenson and Justin Wolfers. In this article, the writers examine the changing trends in marriages and divorce in the United States for the past one hundred and fifty years. They present figures and facts that show the rates at which marriages and divorces are low or when they are at their peak. They compare this figures and trends to those of other countries such as Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom and Canada among others. Stevenson and Wolfers also compare marriages between the black and white communities in the US. Fewer African Americans who enter marriage compared to the whites but they spent more time as married couples than the whites did (5). Their findings revealed that college graduates were less likely to divorce.
The divorce rate of people without a college degree was high, showing that there was a relationship between the level of education and the divorce rates (6). They seek to understand and point out some of the factors that have contributed to these trends. The factors they have identified include technology of birth control, changes in the wage structure, household technology, changes in legal structure of marriage and shocks to the marriage market matching function. Relaxation of laws concerning who one is supposed to marry has contributed to more marriages. The legal procedures in divorce proceedings have also reduced and many people find it easier to get a divorce. Some people have chosen to cohabit as an alternative to marriage. Most of those who have agreed to this arrangement have done so with the expectation that it will lead to marriage.
Sociology can be defined as the study of human behavior in society and it is through sociology, people understand the influence of major changes in others (Andersen and Taylor 2). Sociological imagination is the ability to see societal patterns that influence individual and group life (Andersen and Taylor 5). The above article is important for people who are interested in understanding the current marriage trends. The article helped me to understand my life in a global context. Many people believe that there are high divorce rates in western countries. This is indeed true, but they fail to understand the reason behind it. Reading this paper made me realize that most of the causes of divorce in America can be avoided. Stevenson and Wolfers observed that divorce cases are higher during periods of unemployment (1). This is the time when partners should remain committed to each other and encourage each other. To some people, this may not seem as reason enough for people to get divorced.
In the article, Stevenson and Wolfers pointed out that many policy makers encourage the idea that married people are happier than single or divorced people are. This is societal influence and many people who have believed this have gone ahead and married. What these people have failed to realize is that happiness is a personal choice and a single person who is unhappy will remain unhappy even after he or she is married. They noted that single people who are happy remain happy even after they are married. Realizing one’s identity is one of the important things to personal fulfillment. Marriage should not be taken lightly and people should be more committed to the institution. There are many instances where people get married to try out their luck and see if things will work out. Just like denying parental responsibility to illegitimate children, reduced cases of children born out of wedlock (Stevenson and Wolfers 16), putting some stringent measures in divorce cases might help in reducing the divorce rates in the country.
Andersen, Margaret and Taylor Howard. Sociology: Understanding a Diverse Society. New York, NY: Cengage Learning, 2007. Print.
Stevenson, Betsey and Justin Wolfers. Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2007. Print.