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September 25, 2018 01:52 PM

They say millennials are the most cautious generation — and apparently it shows in the declining U.S. divorce rate.

According to a new analysis of U.S. Census data by University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen, the divorce rate in America has plummeted 18 percent from 2008 to 2016, and it’s all thanks to Generation X — and especially millennials — being pickier about their partners and delaying marriage until their careers and finances are stable.

Cohen specifically credits younger women for the decline, noting that when they marry for the first time, they are more likely to be over 25 years old, and more likely to have already earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. They are also less likely to already have children when they enter into marriage. Cohen predicts that because of these factors, today’s young women “will have lower divorce rates than today’s older women.”

“The trend in new marriages is toward those with lower divorce risks,” Cohen writes. “The composition of new marriages, along with the shrinking demographic influence of Baby Boom cohorts, all but guarantees falling divorce rates in the coming years.”

Millennials’ marital patterns stand in stark contrast to those of baby boomers, who typically married young and have continued to get divorced at unusually high rates, even into their 60s and 70s, Bloomberg reports.

Today, meanwhile, fewer people are getting married, and those who do are far less likely to divorce, Cohen explains.

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His findings also suggest that marriage is becoming more exclusive, as many poorer and less educated Americans are choosing to forgo tying the knot for living together, and often raising children together.

“One of the reasons for the decline is that the married population is getting older and more highly educated,” Cohen said, according to Bloomberg. “Marriage is more and more an achievement of status, rather than something that people do regardless of how they’re doing.”

Cohen concludes that the trends “represent progress toward a system in which marriage is rarer, and more stable, than it was in the past.”

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