Are Social Networking and Sites Increasing the Rate of Divorce?
The first element of this hypothesis is: are divorce rates really increasing? Generalized references to divorce seem to consistently say "the divorce rate is increasing" and "50% of all U.S. marriages end in divorce." However, if 50% of all U.S. marriages ended in divorce in 1980, and the same percentage in 1990 and the same in 2000 and the same in 2010, then at least in that respect, the rate of divorce is not increasing. According to "Divorce Rates," the per capita rate of divorce in the U.S. was: "1991, 0.47%; 1992, 0.48%; 1993, 0.46%; 1994, 0.46%; 1995, 0.46%; 1995, 0.43%; 1997, 0.43%; 1998, 0.42%; 1999, 0.41%; 2000, 0.41%; 2001, 0.40%; 2002, 0.38%; 2005, 0.36%" (Americans for Divorce Reform, 2006), and according to the "Divorce Statistics and Studies Blog," the divorce rate in 2010 was 0.36% (Divorce Statistics and Studies Blog, 2011). Those statistics indicate that, despite the often-cited statistic of "50," the rate of divorce has decreased to well below that figure.
Since the original hypothesis is at least partially false, a modified hypothesis is needed. A modified hypothesis is "Are Social Networking and Sites Contributing to Divorce?" It appears from research that they are not contributing to divorce. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey comparing households without internet access vs. households with internet access shows no evidence that internet access increases the number of divorces; in some respects, the increase of internet access actually shows a decrease in divorce rates (Kendall, 2010, p. 449). Furthermore, the common reasons for divorce, none of which is vitally tied to the internet, are:
a. Damaging Communication, described as "many, many small misunderstandings that lead to two people to shutting off their feelings and eventually not being able or want to keep living together" (Simple Divorce Advice, 2011);
b. Financial Difficulties, because, "When money is tight and a constant stress it impacts on a relationship and can cause the relationship to breakdown" (Simple Divorce Advice, 2011);
c. Infidelity, because, "Getting over a spouse having an affair, or one night stand, is too much for many people, so divorce is the only option" (Simple Divorce Advice, 2011);
d. Abuse, mental and physical, described as psychological abuse or "fighting, violence, physical bullying or any sort of manhandling" that causes a person to be "afraid for your physical state or that of your child" (Simple Divorce Advice, 2011)
e. Addiction of all kinds, because, "Often the only way to distance oneself from an addiction is to divorce the person with it" (Simple Divorce Advice, 2011);
f. Unmet Expectations, because people anticipate how their married life will work and where it will take them and, "Unmet expectations can be a slow deterioration of a relationship" (Simple Divorce Advice, 2011);
g. Commitment Issues, because "commitment" can be interpreted differently by different people and "one partner may start to feel unloved and unappreciated" but "the other partner may feel put upon for not being allowed the space they desire" (Simple Divorce Advice, 2011);
h. Change in Goals, because people learn, change and grow, and "It is difficult to live with a person who no longer travels the same path" (Simple Divorce Advice, 2011);
i. Stepfamily Breakdown, because, "The way a second family is set up is very important to the survival of a second marriage especially when children are involved" (Simple Divorce Advice, 2011).
It appears from these common reasons that divorce is still a matter of human relations and not digital advancements. Therefore, after research the modified hypothesis, social networking and sites are not contributing to divorce. The question of whether social networking and sites assist divorce cases through accumulating evidence and through newer methods of serving a spouse with divorce papers is another question.
2. Hypothesis: Is the Empowerment of Women Increasing the Rate of Divorce?
Research for the first hypothesis indicates that there is not an increase in the rate of divorce. Therefore, a modified hypothesis would be: "Is the empowerment of women contributing to divorce?"
Research shows that the empowerment of women, at least in terms of education, is actually decreasing the rate of divorce: "Since the 1970s, when more women started going to college and delaying marriage,…