Surprise! America growing more conservative on divorce, poll shows

by Michael Foust, Guest Reviewer |

WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) — Support for same-sex marriage may be on the rise in America, but a major new survey shows that the nation's attitude toward divorce is growing – perhaps surprisingly – more conservative.

The report by the government's National Center for Health Statistics was based on thousands of interviews and showed that in the decade following 2002, the percentage of men and women who agreed that divorce "is usually the best option when a couple can't seem to work out their marriage problems" fell several percentages points, even as Americans' attitudes in the same survey on same-sex marriage, gay adoption and cohabitation grew more liberal.

Specifically, the report found:

  • The percentage of women who agreed with the statement on divorce fell from 46.7 percent in 2002, to 43.0 percent in 2006–2010, to 38.0 percent in 2011–2013. (The data in the report lumped the years together.)
  • The percentage of men who agreed with the statement fell from 44.3 percent in 2002, to 42.8 percent in 2006–2010, to 39.3 percent in 2011–2013.

The March 17 report, based on data from the National Survey of Family Growth, did not speculate as to the reasons behind the change in attitudes on divorce, although there was plenty of speculation in various media outlets.

"Marriage is becoming so selective that maybe people think if you achieve this status, you don't want to end it," Wendy Manning, a family and marriage researcher at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, told the Associated Press.

The latest survey, from 2011-13, involved 10,000 interviews.