Divorce Statistics

The most commonly quoted statistic about marriage is that 50% of marriages end in divorce. For the past several decades, the divorce rate has hovered around that rate, never exactly on target. It’s become more popular recently to challenge the statistic that 1 in every 2 marriages end in divorce. Many researchers have asserted that the divorce rate is leveling off and even dropping. The first reason is that less people are getting married, so there are fewer divorces. The second reason is that college educated individuals who marry when they are older and have decent incomes enjoy much lower divorce rates than the general public.

In America, divorce is becoming more closely tied with socioeconomics. USA Today has reported that just 29% of Americans have a bachelor’s degree. So what about everyone else? Andrew Cherlin’s renowned work, The Marriage-Go-Round, found that while divorce is going down for the college educated, it’s going up for those with only high school degrees. Frankly, the majority of people who read research studies about divorce and marriage are college educated, so they can congratulate themselves on belonging to a more protected population. But I’m more concerned for the majority. And it’s saddening, though not surprising, that economics create such a dividing line.

Time Magazine reported last year that 40% of births in America are to unwed mothers. Even if the mothers are in committed relationships with the fathers of their children, the government provides no mechanism to track it. Besides, statistics for people who have children out of wedlock aren’t good. By the time that child reaches adolescence, over 75% of those relationships are dissolved. Just because these relationships aren’t included in divorce data doesn’t mean the breakup is any less painful or disruptive for all involved – particularly the children.

I’m worried for these children, and the unfairness of the socioeconomic divide in divorce. Divorce statistics are very frustrating. Most people view them from a personal lens. “What are my chances of getting a divorce? What group do I fall in?” is a question most people ask themselves. And with 40% of births to unmarried women, and a divorce rate that still hovers around 50%, it makes many wonder, “Why marry at all? Why bother, just to go through all that?” To answer that question will take another blog. But now I open this question to you . . .

Do divorce statistics frustrate you? What’s your take on the divorce rate and where it’s headed? And when it comes to marriage, why should you bother at all?

I’d love to read your comments on this page. Be sure to order our new book “Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship.”

Tracy Clifford

2 Responses to “Divorce Statistics”

  1. I have ministered to single parents and their kids for over 16 years now and I have seen the hurt in them close up and personal. Kids don’t know where they belong. They feel like their parent or parents didn’t love them enough to stay. Teens will look almost anywhere for acceptance and “love” and end up with pregnancies, diseases and more damage in the process. Adults children of divorce wrestle with issues of lack of trust, fear, anxiety, low self-worth, abandonment, betrayal and carry these issues into their relationships and pass them on to the next generation.

    Yes, divorce rates frustrate me because I see the results every single day and those I minister to. You can see why people are skeptical of marriage. They have not seen healthy marriages and don’t know how to achieve them. There are no guarantees, after all. Vows are just suggestions until their spouse ticks them off.

    Very sad and the result is a society of unhappy people and another generation coming up the same way.

    • Terry says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful comments Robyn. You make many excellent points and I appreciate your feedback. Hopefully many adult children of divorce will become educated and realize that they don’t have to pass the legacy of divorce on to the next generation. Regards, Terry

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