Friday, May 05, 2006

The history of marriage

From the Pew Research Center, comes this interesting chart of marital status over the last 100 years. Frankly, I found it surprising and fascinating. According to this chart, there were actually fewer (percentage-wise) adults living as divorced or never-marrieds in 2000 than there were in 1900. Yes, you read that right: fewer. My guess is that the lower percentage of those declaring their marital status solely as divorced now is due to second (or third or fourth or twenty-first) marriages. Folks are only declaring their current marital status, not any previous divorces that might have taken place. The stigma of divorce was much greater a hundred years ago (MUCH greater), making remarriage difficult for the divorced. The percentage of widows is higher in 2000, a nod to medical technology and better overall health. Married with spouse absent and separated are about the same. My great-great-grandmother fell into this category and would have been in the 1900 census. Great-great-grandpa ran off to another state and started a new family, abandoning his wife and children.

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