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4 Jun. 2012

Trends for Divorce: The Next 100 Years

Posted By The Buncher Law Corporation

A few years back, I came upon a book titled The Next 100 Years, a Forecast for the 21st Century written by George Friedman, the chief intelligence officer and founder of Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (aka "Stratfor"). I won't get into a detailed discussion about the significance of the organization (aside from mentioning its nickname "the shadow CIA"), but the book is worth looking into if you have the bug for interesting perspectives and the forecasting prowess of the likes of Mr. Friedman.

First, let me say that were it not for Mr. Friedman's reputation, I would dismiss this book as an absurd reflection. However, given who he is and what he does for a living, Friedman shows some guts with this attempt to look into our future, beyond our iPads and doo-dads, and loan us a tiny bit of his imagination.

Most of the book is dedicated to international developments that are likely to happen within the next century. But then he shifts to sociographics - more relevant to us, about marriage and family life.

Friedman takes the reader on a brief journey through history, the shift in marriage, childbearing, and divorce over the past two hundred years. For instance, he observes that 200 years ago, life expectancy was lower, people married younger and not only did women have children in their teens, they kept trying to produce children for many years on. Now that we've bounded past the age of industry and into the age of information, a college education is considered a minimum for social and economic success and graduate school (or certification) is prerequisite for professional the lifestyle. The result, Friedman observes, marriage has shifted dramatically, poignantly with couples marrying much later in life and having children much later still – if at all.

This brings me to a few paragraphs that really stopped me from stirring my coffee:

This brings us to a place where marriages are not held together by need as much as by love. The problem with love is that it can be fickle. It comes and goes. If people stay married only for emotional reasons, there will inevitably be more divorce. The decline of economic necessity removes a power stabilizing force in marriage. Love may endure, and frequently does, but by itself it is less powerful than when linked to economic necessity.

And this gem:

There is now a period built into life patterns where people are going to be sexually active but not yet able to support themselves financially. There is also a period in which they can support themselves and are sexually active, but choose not to reproduce. The entire pattern of traditional life is collapsing, and no clear alternative patterns are emerging yet. Cohabitation used to be linked to formal, legal marriage, but the two are now completely decoupled. Even reproduction is being uncoupled from marriage, and perhaps even from cohabitation. Longer life, the decline in fertility rates, and the additional years of education have all contributed to the dissolution of previous life and social patterns.

More things to make you go, "Hmmmm."

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