WootBot


quality posts: 15 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

“Oh, my Luve’s like a red, red, rose / That’s newly sprung in June,” wrote Robert Burns, and while it’s always sad when a poet doesn’t know how to spell an easy word like “love,” it’s undeniably true that June is the most romantic month of the year. To this day, it’s the most popular month for Americans to get married, just ahead of August and May. We’ve asked Ken Jennings, the famous Jeopardy! champion and relationship guru, to puncture four matrimonial myths that have stuck around for years, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. If you’re not ready to have all your marital misconceptions shattered, speak now or forever hold your peace.

The Debunker: Do Half of All Marriages End in Divorce?

This gloomy prediction, always a hit at wedding toasts, has been in currency for almost forty years, ever since the advent of no-fault divorce in the United States led to a boom in both divorces and scare numbers like this one. It’s true that the trends of the 1970s, if extrapolated, once had experts worrying that the likelihood of divorce could one day hit even odds. But that never happened. Instead the divorce rate leveled out, then declined. In the early 2000s, divorce hit its lowest level since 1970, and has hovered there pretty consistently ever since: about 3.5 divorces per every thousand Americans per year.

the divorce of josephine

That doesn’t seem nightmarishly high, right? If you know 300 people, only about one of them will get a divorce this year. The confusion probably comes with the way marriages and divorces are usually counted. According to the CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth, in 2013 there were 6.8 marriages for every 1,000 people and 3.4 divorces. Simple division, right? Half of all marriages end in divorce.

Well, no. The vast majority of those 1.04 million divorces in 2013 were not people who got married in 2013, so you can’t read the numbers that way. It’s a lot harder to turn those numbers into a set of odds, but the best research suggest that the number has never risen above 41 percent. “I wouldn’t expect any cohort to reach 50 percent,” a Census Bureau researcher told The New York Times in 2005. The trend is particularly positive today among college graduates, with a divorce rate plummeting so low that it may stabilize around 25 percent. Tara Parker-Pope, in her book For Better, suggests that the “half of all marriages” canard sticks around because it’s politically useful: conservatives use it to decry the breakdown of traditional families, while liberals use it to support safety nets for single moms. But it was never true, and today it isn’t even close.

Quick Quiz: Ronald Reagan was the only divorced U.S. president. Can you name the only divorced vice president, who separated from his first wife Tod in 1962?

Ken Jennings is the author of six books, most recently his Junior Genius Guides, Because I Said So!, and Maphead. He's also the proud owner of an underwhelming Bag o' Crap. Follow him at ken-jennings.com or on Twitter as @KenJennings.

whatsamattaU


quality posts: 1077 Private Messages whatsamattaU

Although Tod's marriage ended up in divorce, he soon found he was "Happy" even though the delegates/voters weren't.

bjgleas


quality posts: 1 Private Messages bjgleas

Who is Nelson Rockefeller?

RWoodward


quality posts: 58 Private Messages RWoodward

“Oh, my Luve’s like a red, red, rose / That’s newly sprung in June,” was written by Robert Burns, not Robert Bruce.

loatu


quality posts: 2 Private Messages loatu

Ken, you say it's hard to turn numbers into odds, but couldn't we just, you know, add em all up?

Go back a reasonably large number of years, count how many marriages in each year and add em up, then how many divorces and add em up, then divide the two. Done.

Am I the only one that thinks it shouldn't be this hard to approximate?

I mean, certainly there's going to be some lag time because mean time for a divorce after marriage is gonna be at least a few years. But we can get close.


EDIT: In fact:

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/marriage_divorce_tables.htm

shows the numbers for 2000-2011, and added up, about 40.4% divorce/marriage ratio. And really the ratio has stayed about the same the whole time.

punit


quality posts: 0 Private Messages punit

Cool. Loatu seems to have nailed it. But I would be happier if I could get time enriched data. So if 40% marriages end in divorce, the divorce happens in X years after marriage.
More interestingly, marriages in 2008 have a Y% rate of divorce, which will happen in an average of Z years.

Having said all this, I am totally pro marriage, and mine has lasted 15 years. Cheers.

BJGumby


quality posts: 3 Private Messages BJGumby
punit wrote:Cool. Loatu seems to have nailed it. But I would be happier if I could get time enriched data. So if 40% marriages end in divorce, the divorce happens in X years after marriage.
More interestingly, marriages in 2008 have a Y% rate of divorce, which will happen in an average of Z years.

Having said all this, I am totally pro marriage, and mine has lasted 15 years. Cheers.



Another wildcard is that second (and third marriages) are thrown into the count. If one looked at marriages which are the first for both people, the chances of divorce is more like 30%. Education and income levels are greatly affect the divorce rate.

mdrcoast


quality posts: 16 Private Messages mdrcoast

Or what if you get divorced and re-married??? Does that count? If you then divorce again does that count?

no1


quality posts: 7 Private Messages no1
loatu wrote:In fact:

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/marriage_divorce_tables.htm

shows the numbers for 2000-2011, and added up, about 40.4% divorce/marriage ratio. And really the ratio has stayed about the same the whole time.



if about 40% end in divorce does that mean about 60% end in death? (ignoring annulments, i mean.) i think we need some federal regulation here, marriage is hazardous to your health!

hot72chev


quality posts: 13 Private Messages hot72chev
no1 wrote:if about 40% end in divorce does that mean about 60% end in death? (ignoring annulments, i mean.) i think we need some federal regulation here, marriage is hazardous to your health!



precisely why I never married!

No badges cluttering up this signature...no-sir-ee-bob.

first2summit


quality posts: 8 Private Messages first2summit
loatu wrote:Ken, you say it's hard to turn numbers into odds, but couldn't we just, you know, add em all up?

Go back a reasonably large number of years, count how many marriages in each year and add em up, then how many divorces and add em up, then divide the two. Done.

Am I the only one that thinks it shouldn't be this hard to approximate?

I mean, certainly there's going to be some lag time because mean time for a divorce after marriage is gonna be at least a few years. But we can get close.


EDIT: In fact:

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/marriage_divorce_tables.htm

shows the numbers for 2000-2011, and added up, about 40.4% divorce/marriage ratio. And really the ratio has stayed about the same the whole time.



This is one of the difficult things about statistics and social sciences. To get a better figure, we would to track all the people married in 2012 and see how long those last. How you get that half of all divorce number isn't the correct way to derive that statistic. How that number is derived is looking at the divorces in 2013 and divide that into the number of marriages 2012. When you do that, you're taking one subset (divorces) from many populations (years married) and comparing it against to a single specific population (those married in 2012).

Further, you can't just look at the numbers but have to understand the data points. What's driving the increase in divorce rates is the baby boomers divorcing. It can be argued that they probably would have divorced a lot earlier in their marriage if given the chance, i.e. social stigma of divorce, women's social and economic mobility.

Up until the mid 70s, divorce was a very difficult thing to get. What happened was that they introduced the "no fault divorce" allowing two people who just didn't want to be married any more to divorce. Before, it required something serious like spousal abuse or abandonment.

So if the no fault divorce was available plus the social stigma wasn't as bad plus women had more financial mobility, the baby boomer divorces occurring now would have occurred much earlier bringing today's divorce numbers down.

tgpeligrosa


quality posts: 0 Private Messages tgpeligrosa
first2summit wrote:This is one of the difficult things about statistics and social sciences. To get a better figure, we would to track all the people married in 2012 and see how long those last. How you get that half of all divorce number isn't the correct way to derive that statistic. How that number is derived is looking at the divorces in 2013 and divide that into the number of marriages 2012. When you do that, you're taking one subset (divorces) from many populations (years married) and comparing it against to a single specific population (those married in 2012).

Further, you can't just look at the numbers but have to understand the data points. What's driving the increase in divorce rates is the baby boomers divorcing. It can be argued that they probably would have divorced a lot earlier in their marriage if given the chance, i.e. social stigma of divorce, women's social and economic mobility.

Up until the mid 70s, divorce was a very difficult thing to get. What happened was that they introduced the "no fault divorce" allowing two people who just didn't want to be married any more to divorce. Before, it required something serious like spousal abuse or abandonment.

So if the no fault divorce was available plus the social stigma wasn't as bad plus women had more financial mobility, the baby boomer divorces occurring now would have occurred much earlier bringing today's divorce numbers down.



In which half of divorces are MEN at fault??? They shouldn't be concerned by the numbers, but WHO divorced whom and how fast they remarried... Talk about Baby Boomers... what era are we in now?

whoiskenjennings


quality posts: 7 Private Messages whoiskenjennings

Guest Blogger

RWoodward wrote:“Oh, my Luve’s like a red, red, rose / That’s newly sprung in June,” was written by Robert Burns, not Robert Bruce.



Argh! Good catch, this is now fixed.

The problem with these numbers is exactly what some others have said: we really won't know for decades what the odds were of one of today's marriages failing. In 2014, I can tell you the odds that a 2004 marriage lasted a decade, but that's a far cry from (a) how many of those marriages will EVER result in a divorce, much less (b) how many 2014 marriages will result in a divorce? You can (eventually) plot trends, but the only way to get a real number is to invent a time machine.

first2summit


quality posts: 8 Private Messages first2summit
tgpeligrosa wrote:In which half of divorces are MEN at fault??? They shouldn't be concerned by the numbers, but WHO divorced whom and how fast they remarried... Talk about Baby Boomers... what era are we in now?



That's kind of the point of the no-fault divorce - no one is to blame. I guess you could assign blame but it's not something we ever track.

As for what era or Generation, we've just produced the Gen Y or Millenials now.