Posts Tagged ‘Divorce Rate’

Cumulative Share of US Marriages Ending in Divorce - Click for Larger Image The NY Times, along with several other news sources, recently published an article examining, once again, the “50% Myth” of divorce rates in the USA. I commented on this back in June of 2014 (see US Divorce Rate: The 50% Myth). This is of course a very complex issue with multiple levels of interpretation and analysis from an array of viewpoints both statistical and sociological. However, three main trends are evident:

1) Divorce rates surged in the 1970s and 1980s, but since have dropped significantly, first in the 1990s and even more so in the 2000s.

2) Couples are marrying later in life: The median age for marriage in 1890 was 26 for men and 22 for women. By the 1950s, it had dropped to 23 for men and 20 for women. In 2004, it climbed to 27 for men and 26 for women.

3) Fewer couples are getting married per capita: many younger couples are living together prior to or instead of marrying, which reduces the divorce rate for couples in their early twenties.

Of course, this is also a simplified view. Much statistical analysis can be applied to these data. For example, one recurring source of the 50% “rule” is that approximately 2.4 million couples marry in a given year, and 1.2 million divorce. 50%, right? But these divorces are not drawn from the same set as the marriages, or, put another way, half of those married in any given year do not divorce in that same year. More significantly, the number of divorces and marriages are taken as totals from the general population, and not from more definitive samples: the percentage of divorces among second (60-67%) and third (70-73%) marriages is much higher than among marriages that don’t end in divorce, skewing the numbers.

A more accurate approach would be to calculate how many people who ever married subsequently divorced. Calculated in this manner, the US divorce rate has never exceeded 41 percent, and in fact is currently dropping. According to the 2001 survey of the Fertility and Family Branch of the Census Bureau, the rate of divorce for men between 50 and 59 was 41% and for women between 50 and 59 was 39%.

In any case, divorce is a real consideration in marriage, ultimately affecting close to 4 in 10 couples. If you find yourself in the 40 percentile, consider consulting a qualified divorce attorney to examine your situation and the best way forward.

You often hear the statistic that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. Is this actually true? Mark Twain wrote in his autobiography that there are three kinds of lies: “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.” (While the quote is usually given as Twain’s, Twain himself attributed it to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.) Is this the case with the 50% “myth”? What is the present divorce rate in the USA?

Divorce rates have been rising all around the world, with the USA coming in sixth place for the highest divorce rate at 3.4 per 1000 population, trailing Russia (5), Belarus (3.8), Ukraine (3.6), Moldova (3.5 – interesting at all are former parts of the USSR), and Cayman Islands (3.4). Other major countries are not far behind, with Denmark at 2.7 per 1000, Switzerland 2.6, Spain 2.4, Australia 2.2, and Japan 2.0. But in all cases, the rate has been increasing in recent years and decades.

The actual percentage rate for America is between 40-50%, depending on how statistics are measured and which factors are considered contributing. And difference sources cite different (though relatively close) rates. For example, Jennifer Baker of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri finds that 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second marriages, and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, whereas the Enrichment Journal cites a 41% rate for first marriages, 60% for second, and 73% for third marriages. And it appears that couples with children have only a slightly lower rate of divorce than childless couples.

The Huffington Post (November 11, 2013) posted a map showing US divorce rate distribution by state, highlighting the “Divorce Capitals” of the US as shown below:

US Divorce Rate Distribution by State - Click for Larger Image

While the states with the highest divorce rates are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kentucy (all with rates betwee 12.64 and 14.35 per 1000), Massachusetts has one of the lowest rates, one of only five states with rates below 7.6 per 1000. Yet Masschusetts, by a long margin, was the first state to recognize same sex marriage (oft claimed by some as destructive of the family institution) and is often cited as one of the most liberal states in the country.

Another interesting divorce rate statistic is that divorce (and marriage) rates drop during economic recessions, in striking parallel, such that in 2000 the marriage rate was a little over 8 per 1000 and the divorce rate just about 8 per 1000, while both dipped to 3.5 or lower in 2008 and 2009, with the divorce rate since climbing slightly (by about .2 per 1000) and the marriage rate holding steady at about 3.4 per 1000.

The information contained in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. The use of this Blog does not create an attorney/client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Barry R. Lewis. If you are considering divorce or if you are involved in any legal matter, you should hire an attorney.

Massachusetts Divorce and Family Law
Attorney Barry R. Lewis — Divorce Law Specialist
Locations Throughout Eastern & Central Massachusetts :: 508-879-3262