With roller coaster changes in marriage and divorce rates apparently leveling off in the 1980s, Andrew Cherlin feels that the time is right for an overall assessment of marital trends. His graceful and informal book surveys and explains the latest research on marriage, divorce, and remarriage since World War II.
Cherlin presents the facts about family change over the past thirty-five years and examines the reasons for the trends that emerge. He views the 1950s, when Americans were marrying and having children early and divorcing infrequently, as the aberration, and he discusses why this period was unusual. He also explores the causes and consequences of the dramatic changes since 1960—increases in divorce, remarriage, and cohabitation, decreases in fertility—that are altering the very definition of the family in our society. He concludes with a discussion of the increasing differences in the marital patterns of black and white families over the past few decades.