More About Divorce Statistics

Part of the Divorce Reform Page, sponsored by Americans for Divorce Reform
Legislation | Statistics | Articles/Opinion | Quotations | Polls | Other family-related articles

This site, part of the Divorce Statistics Collection, explores:

1. What do all those different versions of the "divorce rate" mean? What is the real divorce rate?
-- Excellent explanation of the above topics by Scott Stanley.
--50% and 40% Divorce Rate Statistics are Wrong--Lou Harris (or at least misinterpereted -- John Crouch)
--Interpreting Divorce Rates and Ages in Light of Marriage Rates and Ages

Basically, it's very hard to say what the divorce rate is because there are several different ways to measure it, and because the constant question is, what do you use as the denominator of the fraction or ratio? Do you weigh people getting divorced per year against the number of people who are getting married that same year, or against people who got married when the divorcing people got married, or against everyone who is married, or who ever has been, or do you try to project how many people who are getting married _will_ divorce in the future, disregarding older people who are in more stable marriages?

Taking the number of marriages per year and comparing it with the number of divorces per year is very often done in the media, often just using a single county or city (which brings in the factor that people select certain counties or states for both marriage and divorce that aren't necessarily where they both live). A researcher who corresponded with me on this question likened this technique to "an apple-orange comparison ... like comparing the number of falling acorns to the number of new oak trees planted each year; it doesn't take into account that falling acorns come from oaks already growing. Around 2% of existing marriages in the U.S. fail each year."

The easiest rate to calculate is divorce per year per capita, or per marriage, but that figure is really only useful for comparing against other states or countries or, not as reliably, other decades.
--John Crouch

2. Where do Divorce Statistics come from? And what information is collected?

3. Why are Divorce Statistics so incomplete and hard to get?
-- Current Marriage and Divorce Data is Meager
-- Census and Marital Status Question

4. How could more divorce statistics be made available?

5. How are they computed?
-- Problems with State Divorce Numbers

Legislation | Statistics | Articles/Opinion | Quotations | Polls | Other family-related articles

Originally posted and maintained by Americans for Divorce Reform; now maintained by John Crouch. You can call me at (703) 528-6700 or e-mail me through my law office's web site.