A history of divorce and remarriage in the United States
Claudia W. Strow
Brian K. Strow
Purpose – This paper aims to review major historical trends in US divorce rates and the origin of divorce law in the USA, as well as several of the leading explanations for the increased rates of divorce in the 20th century and the impact of these trends on remarriage rates. Design/methodology/approach – Using a historical review, the paper discusses the origins of regional differences, the factors contributing to trends in divorce and remarriage, and the transition in persons pursuing divorce and remarriage throughout the history of the USA. Findings – The paper notes how the advent of industrialization transformed the family and contributed to rising divorce rates and examines common explanations for the dramatic increase in divorce throughout the 20th century. In particular, this review highlights how the feminist movement along with numerous legislative and demographic changes brought about the increased labor force participation of women and female economic independence, which allowed both men and women greater freedom to divorce. As divorce has become a more common event, the number of people eligible for remarriage has increased and the majority of those entering second marriages have shifted from widows and widowers to divorcees. Originality/value – Once scholars better understand the historical background for trends in divorce and remarriage, they can more readily recognize and address the implications for marriage in the present day.
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