From Focus on the Family’s Pastor’s Weekly Briefing email 7/22.

The State of Our Unions 2005, an annual report issued by the National Marriage Project at New Jersey’s Rutgers University, says divorce is on the decline in the USA, but may be due more to an increase in people living together. Couples who once might have wed and then divorced now are not marrying at all.

The U.S. divorce rate is 17.7 per 1,000 married women, down from 22.6 in 1980. The marriage rate is also on a steady decline: a 50 percent drop since 1970 from 76.5 per 1,000 unmarried women to 39.9, says the report.

Cohabiting couples have twice the breakup rate of married couples, the report’s authors say. And in the USA, 40 percent bring kids into these often-shaky live-in relationships. “As society shifts from marriage to cohabitation — which is what’s happening — you have an increase in family instability,” concludes the` study.

In the USA, 8.1 percent of coupled households are made up of unmarried, heterosexual partners. Our country also has the lowest percentage among Western nations of children who grow up with both biological parents (63%), the report says. “The United States has the weakest families in the Western world because we have the highest divorce rate and the highest rate of solo parenting.”