The divorce rate in the United States is at its lowest point since 1970, when the current divorce boom began with the passage of no-fault laws. The annual rate dropped from 5.1 per 1000 people in the worst year, 1981, to 3.6 last year.
Why only two cheers? The good news is that the marriage success rate is rising among college-educated couples. They really are learning how to hold it together better. Likewise, there has been some revulsion at easy divorce, especially among young people, who are "being the change they wish to see in the world" by staying married.
On the other hand, one reason the divorce rate is down is because the marriage rate is down in the first place. The proportion of couples who just cohabit, even after they have children, has been rising. Many children of the '70s divorces are so afraid of making the same mistake that they don’t marry at all. I predict that the cohabitation rate will start to go down among college educated people as more people learn that cohabiters who marry are more likely to divorce than are couples who don't live together before marriage.
The other not-so-good fact is that the divorce rate has not fallen among the least educated. The growing marriage divide is becoming a class divide. This divide cuts both ways: poor people are more likely to divorce (or have children without marrying), but also people who divorce are more likely to end up poor.
So let's build on the positive. And educate the poor and the cohabiters about what their real odds of happiness are.