The effects of the pill (ca. 1960) and No Fault Divorce legislation (ca. 1970) show up in the data!
I was browsing some data tables for marriage at the U.S. Census website. It’s hard to see trends from looking at raw data, so I made a graph showing the marital status of Americans since 1950.
This graph tells us a lot about marriage over the last 70 years.
First of all, marriage has remained fairly steady since 1950.
The decreasing ratio of widows is presumably because of the increasing life span and better living/working conditions, especially for men.
The unmarried population reached an all-time low around 1960. Right about this time, hormonal contraceptive pills made their debut. After this, the number of unmarried people rose steadily, and increased more drastically during the mid to late 1990s. I presume this is a direct result of the pill, because the pill effectively removed the primary motivation for people to marry before having sex, and transformed sex into a FUNgible commodity. “Free Love”, and all that.
No Fault Divorce (NFD) legislation swept the nation around 1970, and this shows up in the data. Starting in 1970, there began to be a much larger proportion of unmarried people who were divorced. This trend continued to grow until it started to level off somewhat in the mid to late 1990s.
We might question why the number of unmarried divorced people leveled off in the mid to late 1990s. This can be understood when we see that the number of never marrieds took a slight uptick around the same period. In essence, people were choosing to remain single, or waiting until later in life, presumably in order to pursue
an education a postporniscuous* season of singularity. This phenomenon was explained by Dalrock, More grim news for carousellers hoping to jump at the last minute. (2012 November 24).
What happened in the mid-1990s that would cause this? I have one guess… The insanely popular TV sitcom Friends, which debuted on September 22, 1994 and ran for 10 years. This, coupled with the almost total disappearance of wholesome family shows which had been popular since the late 1950s.
Never Married vs. Unmarried Divorced
For the unmarried divorced and never married data, there is an ever widening chasm between men and women since 1970.
- When we compare never married men and women, the number of never married men is growing faster compared to the number of never married women. In effect, more women got married, and some men married more than once.
- When we compare the unmarried divorced men and women, the number of divorced women is increasing faster than the number of divorced men. This seems to imply that (some) men have a greater likelihood of remaining married. But in reality, this means that men can find another wife after a divorce more easily than women can find a replacement hubby.
So what we see here is that women are postporning* marriage, and are getting divorced, but many of these women are unable (or possibly unwilling) to remarry. As a result, there are fewer never married women than men, and more divorced women than men.
In sum, the pill and No Fault Divorce (i.e. Frivorce) turned the Marriage Marketplace into an automated slore mill, churning out divorced termagants by the millions.
Women Prefer to be Divorced
The numbers of never marrieds and unmarried divorced have grown since 1960 and 1970, respectively, but neither of these seemed to take a bite out of the number of marriages. So why hasn’t marriage taken a hit? Or maybe it has! This could be explained by a combination of the following.
- The total population was increasing exponentially, not linearly as the married data shows.
- The number of marriages was offset by the number of divorces.
- More people got married who would have otherwise remained single.
The first point is not hard to understand, and most readers could agree to the second. But the third point might leave some scratching their heads. Think about it. If the overall trend in marriage remains linear, but the number of divorced people increased, then the number of people who got married must have also increased.
To flush out this point, I’ve picked out the data on people over the age of 15 who are unmarried, specifically the never married and the divorced, and I calculated the percentage of these groups compared to the total number of unmarried people. This data is shown in the following graph.
This graph breaks down the percentages of those men and women over the age of 15 who are unmarried, according to whether they were never married, divorced, or widowed.
Of note, there is a positive female sex ratio in the total population data, and a significant difference between the sexes concerning enwidowment. So at first glance, it is surprising that there has always been a larger percentage of never married men than never married women.
This graph also shows that 20% of all unmarried people were previously married. That’s 1 out of 5! Younger people are shying away from marriage now, so this trend has peaked and is starting to decline.
Here, it is sharply obvious that divorce became trendy in 1970. At the same time, there was also a marked down turn in the percent of both men and women who never married. This suggests that in addition to more people getting a divorce, there were also more people getting married. This brings us to the next finding.
Children have a game called “playing house”, in which a boy and a girl pretend to be a married couple, and other playmates take on the roles of the children and pets. It’s all for fun, and is largely forgotten before the next day.
This is exactly what happened to marriage after NFD legislation, except that it was young adults who were playing house!
What we see from the data above is that NFD reduced the initial perceived risk of being stuck in an unhappy marriage until death. As a result, marriage was not taken as seriously as before, so more people were willing to take the chance at getting married.
In sum effect, NFD transformed marriage from a covenantal institution into a social transaction. It ostensibly reduced the value of marriage while it simultaneously offered the tangible benefits of financial savings, living conveniences, and the self-styled entertainment of “playing house”. Without the sense of permanency offered by a life-time commitment, marriage is essentially playing house with a revolving door.
I like my No Fault Divorce sunny buns up with some bread on the side man (or meat on the side chick)… Moar postporniscuity* pleez!
Really… How many times have you heard someone say, “If it doesn’t “work out”, we can always get a divorce and “start over.”? But if they have a good postmodern sense of morality, they won’t say that in front of their children.
A Few Conclusions
- Since 1950, marriage has increased linearly while the total population has increased exponentially.
- The percentage of widows is decreasing.
- The early to mid-1960s saw an increase in those postponing marriage, presumably because the advent of the pill removed the motivation to marry before having sex.
- In addition to (2), a previous post, Contraception Correlations (2019 November 29), showed that the pill also had a delayed effect on the rise of divorce.
- No Fault Divorce legislation in 1970 led to an immediate increase in both marriage and divorce.
- When more people are getting married, and more people are getting divorced too, this essentially means that people are taking the institution of marriage less seriously. In other words, marriage has been cheapened by the introduction of No Fault Divorce legislation.
- Moreover, marriage became a revolving door – More Johns and D!cks get in, more Beckys and Staceys get out.
- However, something happened around 1995 that caused marriage to become much less popular.
- Since then, more men are staying single (never married), and…
- Many more women are becoming divorced.
- The data also shows that fewer women are able to “stick the landing” (marry or remarry).
- Now, 1 out of 5 unmarried people were previously married.
These trends are sure to continue. I anticipate seeing the data in 10 years, after the fallout from InstaWh0ring etc. comes home to roost.
* Note: I’ve invented the words “postporn“ (based on postpone + pornography), and “postporniscuity” (based on postpone + pornography + promiscuity) to describe the intentional postponement of marriage (pursuing education, etc.), while at the same time, engaging in sexual promiscuity and idealizing marriage and/or a perfect partner. This behavior seems to be so common that it deserves a name.
- Dalrock: Percentage of U.S. women never married, by age, 1980 & 2015 (2017 November 6)
- Dalrock: US Marital Status Data Through 2017 (2018 August 24)
- Dalrock: Percentage of US population over 15 who were married by sex and race, 1950–2017 (2018 August 27)
- Dalrock: 2017 Never Married Data (2018 September 4)