This paper examines the influence of individual development and historical change on marital dissolution. Data from the vital statistics system of the United States and from the June 1980Current Population Survey are used to examine the experience of marriage cohorts from 1905 through 1975 and the periods from 1922 through 1979. The historical patterns can best be explained as effects of period rather than of birth or marriage cohort, and the individual patterns can be explained best as effects of age and age at marriage rather than of marital duration.

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