While the United States has a very high divorce rate compared to most of the rest of the world, divorce rates, cohabitation rates, and single parent families are trending higher worldwide. This trajectory suggests that divorce trends higher for generations until being reset by cultural crises such as the collapse of nation or major pandemic.
Major religions stress marriage and lifetime monogamy. Whether based on God’s law or on thousands of years of empirical evidence of how best to create a stable society, religions have stressed marriage and family as the basis of society, yet all seem to have provisions for divorce, mainly stemming from infidelity. Studies suggest by the way that infidelity is involved in 90% of all divorce.
The majority of societies have historically begun with strict restrictions on cohabitation and divorce. Yet they have tended to relax restrictions over time, sometimes repeating these patterns if the society lasted long enough, the easing of restrictions paralleling what is occurring across the world today.
In the United States, subcultures have significantly higher levels of cohabitation, out of wedlock children, and divorce. Black rates are highest today followed by whites, then Hispanic immigrants and finally Asians have the lowest rates. Amongst each group, socioeconomic factors tend to differentiate divorce rates as well. Younger, less educated, poorer couples tend to marry or cohabitate earlier and divorce at a much higher rate than others.
Between blacks and whites, blacks have had higher rates since the end of the Civil War. Yet both subcultures are trending much higher, especially since the 1960s. Could it be that the black and white subcultures, as well as others, are just at different points on their trend lines moving away from America’s beginning mores toward whatever end point these trend lines trend toward, perhaps some hoped for greater self actualization and away from some perceived societal enforced responsibility to the tribe?
For centuries, the traditional social contract of marriage has been that man has left the home to farm, fish, hunt, or perform labor in a trade and the woman has performed labor in the home and tended to children and the elderly. This social norm created stability in society if for no other reason that it limited potential for infidelity and created a financial bondage of the wife to the husband.
In America, Blacks were the first to have this social contract disturbed, sadly obliterated in many ways. Men slaves no longer could provide for their families by traditional norms. They could not protect their families from the horrors of slavery. Black slaves were powerless to decide who would work in the home, or in the fields, how their lives would be disciplined, or even to keep their loved ones from being sold and in the process having their family units destroyed. Post slavery, the burden of survival, which we know in modern society creates more divorce, was prevalent amongst ex slaves. The black starting point on the trend line had been significantly altered from that of whites. From this point, all of America would continue on down the trend line together, with blacks having been forced to take the point.