How low is too low for divorce?

I have no idea, but I raised the possibility that there is a too low in this essay for Timeline.

I wrote:

We should ask whether falling divorce rates are always a good thing. Most people getting married would like to think they’ll stay together for the long haul, but what is the right amount of divorce for a society to have?

It seems like an odd question, but divorce really isn’t like crime. Less crime is inarguably good, but we do want some divorces. Otherwise it means people are stuck in bad marriages. If you have no divorce that means even abusive marriages can’t break up. If you have a moderate amount, it means pretty bad marriages can break up but people don’t treat it lightly.

When you put it that way, moderate sounds best. Even as we shouldn’t assume families are always falling apart more than they used to, we should consider the pros and cons of divorce, rather than insisting less is always better.

You can read the whole thing here. In addition to a picture of Donald and Ivana Trump, the piece features my figure:


4 thoughts on “How low is too low for divorce?

  1. Agree with your main point. As you point out, marriage quality changes (hopefully is improving!) over time, so the “right amount” of divorce also would change (i.e., decline, if marriage is improving, all else being equal) over time.


  2. “Less crime is inarguably good” – I’d quibble with that, actually. All else being equal, if the choice is between stealing a loaf of bread and starving, more crime is good, right? And if political protest is made illegal, then crime is good. I personally would similarly argue that illegal immigration is “good crime” – I think people ought to have the right to migrate freely, and that immigration laws are an affront to human rights. And so forth. :->

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