The 1920s marked a period of independence and “letting go” in America. This was especially so for the younger generations who were in their twenties or late teenage years. This decade was nicknamed the Roaring Twenties for such reasons as the popularity and spread of jazz music and the outrage and rebellion against Prohibition. It was a period of prosperity for most of the population although the wealth was unevenly distributed it was shared among the middle-class much more than in previous years. Prosperity arose from such booming industrial industries as the automobile industry. Marriage rates declined as divorce rates contrastingly increased as a result of the fast-paced society during the 1920s.
The Roaring Twenties also encompassed the
Jazz Era. After World War I, the
Great Migration of African-Americans from the south to the northern states took
place. Many of these blacks settled
in such industrial cities as New York City and Chicago.
Harlem, New York was one of the most popular places for blacks to settle
and as a result was the major starting place for jazz music to grow in America.
As the jazz music of such musicians as Duke Ellington spread throughout
the country, swing dancing was also introduced as a way to dance to the faster
paced jazz. Prohibition helped spur
the fast paced ‘20s because speakeasies (secret, illegal clubs) were
established across the country and hired jazz musicians to entertain patrons.
Flappers were also an important part of the era; they were young women
who crossed the former boundaries for women.
They showed their ankles in public by wearing shorter dresses and more
revealing skirts. They also went to jazz clubs to drink, swing dance, and
smoke, all unprecedented actions for women of the time.
The flapper trend along with the fast-paced
movement of the 1920s attributed to the decline in marriage rates during this
time. The image of the flapper was
only one polarization of women during the period.
Young women, flappers or not, became very independent from the
constrictions that society has always placed on them in the past.
Young women were striving for independence from overbearing families and
the confines of society. As a
result, less women were interested in marriage as they were preoccupied with
living their lives outside of the constrains of society beliefs and waiting
before they settle down for the rest of their lives with one man.
During the 1920s, the annual marriage rates were about 99 per 1,000
single women (“Epidemiology” 1). During
the last half of the 1920s, the marriage rate steadily declined and continued to
decline into the beginning of the Great Depression (“Family: Marriage” 2).
This decline is a result of men and women deciding to wait to get married
and instead, do what they wish before they were forced to settle down.
During this time, the divorce rate of American couples actually
increased. Young married couples
saw others their age enjoying themselves as single and unattached romantically.
Jealousy probably became an issue for most newlyweds during the last half
of the decade. Charts show that
divorces declined at the beginning of the 1920s to seven from eight divorces per
thousand married women per year, as the Jazz Era was first starting to pick up
momentum. During the last half of
the decade the Roaring Twenties had picked up the most momentum across America
and the divorce rate increased to eight divorces per thousand married women per
year until the Great Depression (“Family: Divorce” 2).
This increase demonstrates the level of freedom and independence that was
experienced and wanted by the men and women of the country.
It also shows that family life was on the backburner for young men and
women at the time. The divorce rate
climbed during the 1920s.
During the 1920s, the younger generation of
America let loose and began to live their lives the way they wished.
They were influenced heavily by the popular jazz music and swing dancing.
Flappers were abound, as were speakeasies to satisfy those suffering from
Prohibition. This new found freedom
influenced the decrease in marriages and increase of divorces because these
Americans did not want to settle down and become, or stay, married before being
able to have fun during the Roaring Twenties.
of Divorce: National Trends in Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage”. The
Future of the Children. 7 pp. On-line. Internet. 2 February 2004. Available
Ben. “Family: Marriage Rate and Age”. The First Measured Century.
2pp. On-line. Internet. 2 February 2004. Available WWW: http://www.pbs.org/fmc/book/4family1.htm
Ben. “Family: Divorce”. The First Measured Century. 2 pp. On-line.
Internet. 2 February 2004. Available WWW: http://www.pbs.org/fmc/book/4family6.htm
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