The Divorce Rate Myth

The BF and I had a discussion about the divorce rate in America and he found this website.  All this time I’ve thought the divorce rate was 50%!  Not so!  The example here is clear and astounding.  When you take into account that there were 54 million marriages in existence in 1981, 1.2 million divorcing that same year is only a small fraction!  It is not as bleak as we thought.  And even if it really was, it hasn’t stopped us single people from trying to find The One.  Kiki


 Fifty Percent of American Marriages Are Ending in Divorce-Fiction! 

Summary of Rumor:   
Marriage has deteriorated so much that half the marriages in the United States are failing.  There is a 50 percent chance that your marriage will not make it.

The Truth:   

Here are some examples from just a few websites on the Internet:

“Fifty percent of marriages will end in divorce.”
— An infidelity support group

“Fifty percent of all marriages now end in divorce.”
— Promotion for a book on divorce

“Fifty percent of all marriages in America end in divorce.”
— From the treasurer’s office of a Midwestern state

“Over 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.”
— From a men’s counseling center in California

Divorce is too common in America and that should not be taken lightly, but those who are committed to a lifetime of marriage don’t need the discouragement accompanying the notion that half the marriages are going to self-destruct anyway.

I was once told by a young bride-to-be that she and her fiancé had decided not to say “Till death do us part” in their wedding vows because the odds of it really happening were only 50-50.

Let me say it straightforwardly: Fifty percent of American marriages are not ending in divorce. It’s fiction. A myth. A tragically discouraging urban legend.

If there’s no credible evidence that half of American marriages will end up in divorce court, where did that belief originate?

Demographers say there was increased focus on divorce rates during the 1970s when the number of divorces rose, partly as a result of no-fault divorce. Divorces peaked in 1979 and articles started appearing that claimed 50 percent of American marriages were ending in divorce.

A spokesperson for the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics told me that the rumor appears to have originated from a misreading of the facts. It was true, he said, if you looked at all the marriages and divorces within a single year, you’d find that there were twice as many marriages as divorces. In 1981, for example, there were 2.4 million marriages and 1.2 million divorces. At first glance, that would seem like a 50-percent divorce rate.

Virtually none of those divorces were among the people who had married during that year, however, and the statistic failed to take into account the 54 million marriages that already existed, the majority of which would not see divorce.

Another source for the 50-percent figure could be those who were trying to predict the future of divorce. Based on known divorce records, they projected that 50 percent of newly married young people would divorce. University of Chicago sociologist and researcher Linda Waite told USA Today that the 50-percent divorce stats were based more on assumptions than facts.

So what is the divorce picture in America? Surprisingly, it’s not easy to get precise figures because some states don’t report divorces to the National Center for Health Statistics, including one of the largest: California.

Read the rest at

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