JAKARTA, NETRALNEWS.COM - A study suggests that people should get married between the ages of 28 and 32 if they don’t want to get divorced, at least in the first five years. With age, people mature, finish school, and settle into careers, which gives them the emotional and financial wherewithal to manage lifelong romantic commitments.
A new analysis by Nicholas Wolfinger, a sociologist at the University of Utah, challenges that idea a bit. Using data from the National Survey of Family Growth, he finds that today, divorce risk declines for people who wait until their late 20s and early 30s to get married. But it rises again for those who delay walking down the aisle until their late 30s. For each year after about 32, the chance of divorce goes up about 5% says the study.
Again, this seems to be a new phenomenon. Wolfinger finds that during the mid-1990s, the odds of getting divorced continued declining the longer individuals held off on their first marriage. You have to be not too young and not too old.
Wolfinger says the curve persists “even after controlling for respondents’ sex, race, family structure of origin, age at the time of the survey, education, religious tradition, religious attendance, and sexual history, as well as the size of the metropolitan area that they live in.” He thinks the reason might be selection bias.
“The kinds of people who wait till their 30s to get married may be the kinds of people who aren’t predisposed toward doing well in their marriages,” he writes. This also means “people who marry later face a pool of potential spouses that has been winnowed down to exclude the individuals most predisposed to succeed at matrimony.”
Other sociologists who cover this waterfront were quick to weigh in with doubts. The University of Maryland’s Phillip Cohen used a different set of data, from the American Community Survey, to say that getting older didn’t mean your marriage had less chance of survival. According to his analysis, the perfect age to get married if you don’t want to get divorced is 45 to 49, which, he notes, is why people shouldn’t make life decisions based on statistical analyses on the Internet.
The truth is: Divorce is a difficult social pattern to measure. Many states decline to collect data on it. And since a growing number of people are opting for living together without getting the government seal of approval, counting divorce is becoming less useful as a way of measuring family fracturing.