Wars result in a lot of changes in world order, economy, technology, and culture. Furthermore, these also affected relationships, marriages, and divorce rate, especially in Western societies.
After the Civil War in the US, the divorce rate increased from 1.2 to 1.8 per 1,000 marriages, from 1860 to 1866. Also, after World War I, it rose again from 5.5 in 1917 to 7.7 per 1,000 marriages in 1920.
Trends just before the war broke out
It’s interesting to note that the last major war (WW II) had some effects to the family, the basic social and political unit in most countries.So how did WW II affect marriages and divorce cases?
The total number of marriages rose from 1940 to 1941, and reached its peak in 1942. Of course, it slowed down during the war but it increased again in 1946, when the condition was already stable.
The war resulted in a lot of hasty marriages because of the uncertainty that the times brought. So before the Second World War started (for the Americans), more marriages took place.
In the case of the divorce rate, there was an increase at start of the war and it peaked in 1946. The main reason for this increase was the prewar boom of marriages. Most people think that it will be their last time to see each other so better get married before going to the battle field.
The trend doesn’t end there.
The second half of the 20th century
Less people are getting married
According to a study entitled Marriage and Divorce since World War II: Analyzing the Role of Technological Progress on the Formation of Households, the divorce rate from 1950 to 1990 doubled from 11 to 23 divorces per 1,000 married women.
Furthermore in 1950, 82% of the females were married while in the year 2000 it was at 62%. The marriage rate also declined from 211 per 1,000 married women in 1950 to just 82 per 1,000 marriages in the year 2000.
More time for work
The same study pointed out that people spend more time in the workplace. In 1950, the total number of hours spent by a married household (within 24- 54 age group) is 25.5 hrs per person. Furthermore, only 23.7 % of married women work.
By the year 1990, the time spent by each person in a married household is 33.5 hrs. There was also an increase in the number of working married women (71%).
The reasons behind the trend
Wars affect the rates of divorce and marriage because of the uncertainties during this time. There were many hasty marriages just before WW II broke out. After the war, there was an increase in the divorce rate because of those hasty marriages.
After WW II, the increase in the number of divorce cases can be attributed to technological advancements and changes in economic system.
Advancements in technology
The advancements in technology lead to more efficient household chores. Thus, it allows more women to spend more time to work. Furthermore, it (in some way) diminished the economic value of getting married because there’s no need to be dependent to someone (in the case of women).
Single is better
More and more women work because of the many and equal opportunities given to them. Government policies on education, politics, and employment also paved the way for this trend.
Furthermore, in order to cover the expenses incurred because of the technologies that are being used at home, more time is devoted to work.
To close, the Second World War and the post-war period became impetus for the increase in the rate of marriages and divorce. However, several other factors especially in the 1960s to 1970s like equal opportunities given to women played an important role in the increase of divorce cases.
About the author: Ric explores the trends in marriage and divorce rates just before the Second World War broke out and until the year 2000. What factors brought about these trends? He writes for Turco Legal, a law firm in Florida specializing in divorce cases.