Causes of Divorce Why do divorces occur?
As you will recall from Chapter 2, sociologists look for correlations (relationships( between two variables) in attempting to answer questions such as this. Existing research has identified a number of factors at both the macro level and micro level that make some couples more or less likely to divorce. At the macro level, societal factors contributing to higher rates of divorce include changes in social institutions, such as religion and family, Some religions have taken a more lenient attitude toward divorce, and the social stigma associated with divorce has lessened. Further, as we have seen in this chapter, the family institution has undergone a major change that has resulted in less economic and emotional dependency among family members-and thus reduced a barrier to divorce. At the micro level, a number of factors contribute to a couple's "statistical" likelihood of divorcing. Here are some of the primary social characteristics of those most likely to get divorced Marriage at an early ~ge (59 percent of marriages to brides under 18 end in separation or divorce within 15 years) (National Centers for Disease Control.
• A short acquaintanceship before marriage
• Disapproval of the marriage by relatives and friends
• Limited economic resources and low wages
• A high school education or less (although deferring marriage to attend college may be more of a factor than education per se)
• Parents who are divorced or have unhappy marriages
• The presence of children (depending on their gender and age) at the beginning of the marriage interrelationship of these and other factors is complicated. For example, the effect of age is intertwined with economic resources; persons from families at the low end of the income scale tend to marry earlier than those at more affluent income levels. Thus. the question becomes whether age itself is a factor or whether economic resources are more closely associated with divorce.
relationship between divorce and factors such as race, class,and religion is another complex issue. Although African Americans are more likely than whites of European ancestry to get a divorce, other factors-such as income level land discrimination in society-must also be taken into account. Latinos/as share some of the problems faced by African Americans, but their divorce rate is only slightly higher than that of whites of European ancestry. As the sociologist Demie Kurz (1995:21) notes, Religion may affect the divorce rate of some people. including many Latinos/as who are Roman Catholic. However. despite the Catholic doctrine that discourages divorce. the rate of Catholic divorces is now approximately equal to that of Protestant divorces