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Comparing Our Moral Values Against Our Elders

Remember when…

I don’t know. Maybe I watch too much of the History channel or get myself far too involved with chat sites (ask my girlfriend and she will say “Yes, he does”); but I get a little bent when people from various generations espouse to the ideal that “their” generation was better than anyone else’s.

Case in point. One specific female chatter, age 79, recently lamented her views on the spiraling decline in today’s morals in relation to marriage. In her view, her generation was the cat’s meow and representative of everything that was wholesome and good; versus today’s generation (Generation X and Millennials) who are, in her opinion, dismissive of wholesome values.

That’s when my head tilted at a 45 degree slant. “Really?”

While it’s true we are experiencing more divorces in America than we have ever had – does this mean our current generations’ view of marriage has fallen by the wayside? Has our moral compass been skewed? Have our societal and moral values diminished?

Numbers can be fickle and since I’m a “numbers” guy, I searched for hard data on “Divorces”. Below is a chart I created that indicates the number of divorces (per 100,000 people) in the United States since 1880. What I was most interested was the “trend” of not only historical trends of past generations, but our current generation of married couples.

Trend lines are an important aspect of gathering data. In this case, I used a polynomial trendline which is a curved line (represented by red) used when data fluctuates. It is useful, for example, for analyzing gains and losses over a large data set. The order of the polynomial can be determined by the number of fluctuations in the data or by how many bends (hills and valleys) appear in the curve.

Since 1980, we’ve seen are largest declines in divorce rates.
The red line indicates the “trend”

It’s encouraging to note that today’s society (or current generation) seems to possess a very healthy perception of marriage. In fact, the trend line shows a sharp and continuing decline in the divorce rate.


It’s normal for past generationalists to post a claim of superiority but when it comes to marriage, these kids seem to have a good moral compass about them.

New data show younger couples are approaching relationships very differently from baby boomers, who married young, divorced, remarried and so on. Generation X and especially millennials are being pickier about who they marry, tying the knot at older ages when education, careers and finances are on track. And for those couples who are not as educated, financially secure or set in their careers; couples are deciding to live together instead of tying the “knot”.

This is all bad news for matrimonial lawyers, but great news when it comes to America’s divorce rates.

T.E. Snyder

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