It seems like talk about divorce is popping up on a bunch of parenting blogs, from RebelDad to the Business Week Working Parents blog. I just don't have the energy/time right now to write the long thoughtful post I want to about divorce, so I'm just going to put out some links and initial thoughts.
The main point that I want to make is that the number that often gets tossed around about divorce rates -- that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce -- just isn't true. It was a projection based on looking at what if the increase in divorce rates in the 70s continued at that pace, and in fact, the divorce rates have fallen since then. Moreover, the most significant trend is that the divorce rates have fallen much faster among more educated individuals than among less educated individuals.
For example, of the women with at least a 4-year college degree who married between 1990 and 1994, only about 17 percent were divorced within 10 years. For women without a HS degree, the figure is nearly 40 percent. I don't think either the decline in overall divorce rates since the 1970s or the increasing class gap in the rates has penetrated into the general consciousness.
[For those of you interested in the research: Here's a powerpoint presentation by Steven Martin that goes through the analysis, and here's the full paper of his research on the "divorce divide". And here's a paper by David Ellwood and Christopher Jencks that talks about it in the context of single parenting more broadly.]
I think it's a good idea to think about the future and to take risks into account when making your choices. But I don't think the Leslie Bennetts of the world are doing people a favor by trying to generate hysteria over the risk of divorce, especially for highly educated women.