It’s an article of faith in social conservative circles that unilateral divorce has been a disaster, precipitating the collapse of the American family. Tyler Cowen begs to differ in today’s New York Times. Citing recent research by a pair of Wharton economists, Cowen notes that the divorce rate has been falling since the 80s (bringing it back in line with the pre-WWII trend), that divorcées report being happier than they had been previously once they get a year out from the divorce, and that the trend toward delayed childbearing has meant that divorces are less and less likely to involve children.
Cowen doesn’t get into this, but the study also finds a class gap in marriage and divorce patterns—albeit one far less dramatic than the one seen for single childbearing. The marriages of college grads—both first marriages and remarriages—are significantly less likely to end in divorce—presumably at least in part because they tend to marry somewhat later. (Though I note we just get an average age for this—I’d love to see the shape of the distribution.) This—if I can flog an old hobbyhorse for a second—seems out of line with the narrative that has the values of latte-sipping elites driving changes in American family structure.