Quick update to yesterday’s post, which showed this declining refined divorce rate for the years 2008-2014:
On Twitter Kelly Raley suggested this could have to do with increasing education levels among married people. As I’ve reported using these data before, there is a much lower divorce risk for people with BA degrees or higher education.
Yesterday I quickly (but I hope accurately) replicated my basic model from that previous paper, so now I can show the trend as a marginal effect of year holding constant marital duration (from year of marriage), age, education, race/ethnicity, and nativity.*
This shows that there has been a decrease in the adjusted odds of divorce from 2008 to 2014. You could interpret this as a continuous decline with a major detour caused by the recession, but that case is weaker than it was yesterday, looking at just the unadjusted trend.
If it turns out that increase in 2010-2012 is related to the recession, it’s not so different from my original view — a recession drop followed by rebound, it’s just that the drop is less and the rebound is more, and took longer, than I thought. In any event, this should undermine any effort to resuscitate the old idea that the recession caused a decline in divorce by causing families to pull together during troubled times.
This does not contradict the results from Kennedy and Ruggles that show age-adjusted divorce rising between 1980 and 2008, since I’m not trying to compare these ACS trends with the older data sources. For time beyond 2008, they wrote in that paper:
If current trends continue, overall age-standardized divorce rates could level off or even decline over the next few decades. We argue that the leveling of divorce among persons born since 1980 probably reflects the increasing selectivity of marriage.
That would fit the idea of a long-term decline with a stress-induced recession bounce (with real-estate delay).
Alternative interpretations welcome.
* This takes a really long time for Stata to compute on my sad little public-university computer because it’s a non-linear model with 4.8 million cases – so please don’t ask for a lot of different iterations of this figure. I don’t have my code and output cleaned up for sharing, but if you ask me I’ll happily send it to you.