When two people marry, they believe that the marriage will last forever. However, when reality sets in, a fair number of couples call it quits and file for divorce. The divorce rate, especially in America, has become part of the cultural war, as more conservative commentators see a rising divorce rate as an indication of moral decline.
Many demographic surveys of the divorce rate in the United States place it around 50 percent. This is largely based on the fact that there are, in a given year, about 6.8 million marriages and 3.6 million divorces. It is this number, that half of all marriages end in divorce, which has become embedded in popular consciousness.
Historically, the divorce rate in America did begin to rise following World War II, peaking in the 1970s and 1980s. Changes in society have affected the divorce rate. The rise of no-fault divorce, for example, played a role in raising rates. However, divorce rates have been falling since 1980, partially because individuals are marrying later, indicating more maturity. It has now been estimated that as many as 70 percent of couples that married in the 1990s are still married. If such trends continue, the divorce rate in America should drop to roughly one-third. However, another major reason for the drop in the divorce rate in the United States is that fewer people overall are getting married. The rising divorce rate of the 1970s and 1980s, which social commentators decry, may simply be a historical anomaly.