USA ranks third in the world when it comes to the likelihood of couples getting a divorce (Guinness World Records, 2020), with around 40% to 50% of couples estimated to see their marriage end in divorce (Lascala, 2019).
Many variables can contribute to the dissolution of a marriage, but research shows that the most common ones are age and education. Surprisingly, divorce and marriage rates have dropped in recent years. The decrease in divorce is not the consequence of a decrease in the number of marriages. It is because contemporary unions are now lasting longer in this generation than the one before it.
So is there any impact of education on how long your marriage will last? This article uses multiple studies to explore the impact of education on divorce in the USA.
Divorce became more common after changes in laws and regulations during the early decades of the 20th century. Prior to this, the laws were strict, and only those with numerous resources could manage to attain a divorce.
After the modifications and liberalization of such laws, the divorce rate grew substantially as predicted by American sociologist, William Goode. He foresaw that the decrease of economic, legal, and social barriers would eventually result in the growth of the number of couples separating. The decision to separate changed from being based on the available resources to an individual’s choice.
According to Online Divorce, there still exists a correlation between the stability of the couple and the rate of divorce. People with less education, money, and social class are fated to separate due to the burden of these factors, which will eventually bleed into their marriage causing problems between the two.
One resource often considered when studying the risk of separation is the level of education of both of the partners. There has always been a link between education and divorce.
During the first few decades of the 20th century, couples with higher education were more likely to separate, likely due to them having better resources. But that changed in the following decades, and divorce became more likely for the less educated. This is because individuals pursuing higher education would typically enter into a formal union later in life.
Connection of Marriage Dissolution and Education
The two key factors that are linked to the end of formal unions are education and age. A lower chance of divorce is found in the demographic that marries later and has a better education. Education equates to a higher average income, which can be used to smooth-out the rough edges that may arise in a relationship.
Linda Blair, author of straight-talking and a psychologist, found that separation was more likely in university dropouts. Furthermore, people who do not do well while studying and fail to be productive in the workplace are more prone to stress.
This quick rate of burnout, and the stress it causes them by not being able to act and conduct themselves as needed, can carry over into their personal lives causing quick breakups and short marriages. Conscientiousness is an important personality factor according to Robert McHenry, a psychologist at Oxford University.
If someone is conscientious during his or her education, he/she will be successful at work. A healthy and happy work-life will lead to a happier marital life and vice versa. Individuals at highly stressful positions are more likely to divorce than other couples.
The stressful position can be countered by having the right knowledge to deal with the position, another aspect where education can aid in preventing a couple from separating.
Better Chances of Survival when both are Educated
Education has a direct effect on the economic potential for everyone. Better education leads to better prospects, earnings, and stability as compared to someone with lesser education. It was found that people look for similar social standing, educational achievements, and economic potential in their partner.
This attitude reflects in the formal union where the desire for an equal in a relationship, outweighs emotional attachment eventually. Highly educated women have a higher probability of staying married. This is because of the individual stability they have, even when being in a relationship where their partner may be more educated than them.
Therefore, college-educated women are said to have more successful marriages. The probability of their marriage lasting is around 78% as compared to someone with a simple high school diploma who has a probability of only 40% (Pew Research Center, 2015).
Less Education, More Divorce
Economic stressors such as unemployment affect marital happiness leading to less educated women having higher divorce rates as compared to the higher educated women. The unsatisfactory division of the housework and responsibilities regarding monetary requirements, which can be impacted by education, leads to an unsatisfactory marital life eventually ending in divorce. The different educational levels act as a barrier between the couple.
Decreasing Divorce Rates Due to Millennials
The trend of the baby-boomer generation was to get married regardless of the financial and social circumstances.
The previous generation before that seemed to follow a trend of marrying, dissolving it, and repeating it in their 60’s and 70’s. This resulted in a higher percentage of divorce seen than in any other generation.
This could be attributed to the evolving social standards (where it became more acceptable socially to get divorced) and women being better educated. More women became capable of sustaining themselves, removing the factor of being dependent on the spouse for their daily needs. The alimony and spousal support granted by law on the dissolution of marriage also ensured that the lesser abled spouse would be cared for.
Recent studies show that the instances of divorce are decreasing because of millennials. According to research, the chances of divorcing are less than 50% for people in their 20’s and their chances of staying married have increased (Wood, 2018). This is because of their views regarding marriage. They are opting to acquire education and become financially stable, instead of running headfirst into a union.
Research done by Philip N. Cohen, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, concluded that getting an education and working on a professional career before choosing to tie the knot makes for a more stable union where both the individuals are equal in the relationship.
This results in a long marriage. He further suggested that couples with a lesser education and poor backgrounds experience a greater instability in modern cohabiting relationships.
Marriage is an institution that requires work and compromise by both individuals, not just one. Numerous variables may result in or contribute to the end of a marriage. One key variable is education, the focus of this article.
The need for education is becoming a growing priority in today’s society. How much education you acquire influences other things in life, like economic and social standing. This, and the direct impact education can have on the circumstances of your relationship, affect the possibility of divorce.
The current rate for union dissolution seems to be decreasing. As for the reason, it can be attributed to a better measure of education, the current generation learning from the mistakes of the old ones, and a general change in attitude regarding marriage.
Education should be attained irrespective of the effect it might have the longevity of the marriage, but if it aids in the probability of the longevity of it, then the importance of acquiring formal knowledge through schooling only increases.