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Old 11-12-2017, 09:22 PM
TheUser TheUser is offline
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US Divorce Rate by Year - Conflicting Data. Who's Right?

I'm trying to find out how the Divorce Rate in the US has changed in recent years. But I found conflicting data that's confusing me -- yet all of it is backed by science/studies.

1) According to this Bowling Green State University study, the Divorce Rate was climbing from 2000-2010:

https://www.bgsu.edu/ncfmr/resources...-fp-16-21.html

You can't enlarge their picture there, but here it is zoomed in: note the 2000-2010 period:
https://ibb.co/b5w8Qw

2) But according to this CDC PDF, the Divorce Rate was declining from 2000-2010:

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/na...ates_00-15.pdf

Note that #1 is phrased as Rate per 1,000 married women
#2 is phrased as Rate per 1,000 total population

So who do we believe? How do we count Divorce Rates? This is such a common question and yet the answers are maddeningly hard to find!

Is the discrepancy due to gay marriages? That is, if we consider heteresexual marriages, Answer #1 is relevant? But wouldn't gay/lesbian marriages cancel each other out, leading to the same statistic? Is Answer #2 because there are more gay marriages than lesbian ones?

I'm really baffled.

Last edited by TheUser; 11-12-2017 at 09:24 PM.
  #2  
Old 11-12-2017, 09:33 PM
TheUser TheUser is offline
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Let me write this in clearer format:

1) According to this picture (taken from https://www.bgsu.edu/ncfmr/resources...-fp-16-21.html)

the 2000-2010 Divorce Rate in the US was climbing,

Zoomed-in Picture: https://s7.postimg.org/m0iwfuhbf/Divorce_Rates.png

2) According to this CDC study, https://divorcescience.org/2013/03/1...ate-2001-2011/

the 2000-2010 Divorce Rate in the US was declining,

Zoomed-in Picture: https://divorcescience.files.wordpre...-2001-2011.jpg

#1 is the Rate per 1000 married women. #2 is the Rate per 1000 Total Population.

Last edited by TheUser; 11-12-2017 at 09:34 PM.
  #3  
Old 11-12-2017, 09:39 PM
suranyi suranyi is offline
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The difference between the charts is likely caused because the marriage rates have also changed over time, so that the number of married women per capita is changing. If there are fewer and fewer married women, that might lead to the effect you see.
  #4  
Old 11-12-2017, 10:55 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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There are two trends going on at once in the U.S. since 1980. One is that the percentage of people who get married is decreasing. The other is the percentage of marriages that end in divorce is going down. If you measure divorce in terms of total population you get slightly different results than if you measure divorce in terms of total number of married people. The real trend you need to understand is that it's becoming less common for people to feel they have to get married because that's what people do. This means that there is a smaller percentage of marriages which happen despite the couple thinking that the marriage might not last. This means that less marriages end in divorce.
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Old 11-13-2017, 08:31 AM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is online now
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There is also the giant confounding factor that "what is the divorce rate?" is a very different question from "what are the odds a marriage entered into today will end in divorce?"

Today's divorces (i.e those granted on 13Nov2017) are the product of the last 6 months to 60 years'-worth of marriages. Today's marriages (i.e those granted on 13Nov2017) will be contributing to the divorce rate (or lack of it) for the next 6 months to 60 years.

Those are very different sets of marriages that will be lived in very different circumstances. So naturally we'll end up with very different answers.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 11-13-2017 at 08:32 AM.
  #6  
Old 11-13-2017, 02:03 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
The real trend you need to understand is that it's becoming less common for people to feel they have to get married because that's what people do. This means that there is a smaller percentage of marriages which happen despite the couple thinking that the marriage might not last. This means that less marriages end in divorce.
Seems to me that this would have even more effect, because the ones that don't get married nowadays are much the same ones who would have eventually divorced.

For example, gay or lesbian people who got married to stay in the closet; or teenagers where the girl became pregnant -- both of those groups were previously 'expected' to get married, and in both cases the marriages are more likely to eventually end in divorce. Now, they just never get married in the first place, so the divorce rate is lowered.
  #7  
Old 11-13-2017, 08:15 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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Another trend is that people get married later. At least up to the age of 32, if you get married later, you are less likely to get divorced. Most first marriages are among those no older than 32. The percentage of divorces increases among those married later than 32.
  #8  
Old 11-13-2017, 08:23 PM
TheUser TheUser is offline
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Thanks for these interesting answers. It hadn't occurred to me that that was because marriages were also declining.

What's misleading is for various publications to present Graph A or B as the real picture, as they're doing here, for example. If I didn't know any better I would've thought they were right! They're using the data from #1.
http://time.com/4575495/divorce-rate...y-40-year-low/
http://www.breitbart.com/big-governm...s-35-year-low/
  #9  
Old 11-13-2017, 09:03 PM
TheUser TheUser is offline
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However, let me make one thing clear. I have never been around unmarried people, and I'm always the only unmarried person at work and in my social circles. I'm an educated white-collar white guy. The idea that people are not getting married absolutely does NOT ring true to me, it rings false. I'm 37 years old.
  #10  
Old 11-14-2017, 02:06 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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Another trend has been that the decrease in the number of marriages has been much faster among lower-middle-class and poor people (which generally means ones with blue-collar jobs or no jobs at all or, to put it another way, ones with no more than a high school degree) than among middle-class, upper-middle-class, and rich people (which generally means ones with white-collar jobs or ones living on their trust fund, or, to put it another way, ones with college degrees). My personal experience has been like yours, TheUser. I have a white-collar job (well, we don't actually wear white-collar shirts, but you know what I mean), and most of the people over 30 are married. In any case, regardless of the social class, the percentage of married people is still above 50%:

https://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/da...g-class-divide
  #11  
Old 11-14-2017, 06:55 AM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is online now
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Wendell's got most of it right there. I bet substantially nobody in the OP's office smokes either. Some 15% of US adults smoke https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_sta...king/index.htm but they're heavily concentrated in the low SES. There's some other interesting breakdowns on that page.

Here's another factor ... the point isn't quite so much that white collar SES folks are never getting married. Though some are doing that. It's that the average age at marriage start is climbing steadily.

As a 37 yo, most of your peer age group are married. But if you were urban and 28 you'd find instead of 3/4ths of your age peers being married like it was in 1970, you'd be seeing 3/4ths of them unmarried.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 11-14-2017 at 06:57 AM.
  #12  
Old 11-14-2017, 07:03 AM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is online now
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Late add, sorry.


ISTM there's a bathtub curve for successful marriages vs. the age they're entered. Lots of clueless kids get married just out of HS and soon divorce. Lots of 40s-and-up marriages are either long time singles trying something new, or remarriages. Those carry a lot of risk factors, especially the baggage from the divorce and perhaps blended sets of kids.

The ones in the middle, folks marrying for the first time in their late 20s or early 30s are the ones where they have some hope of making a grown-up decision and of the person they pick being mostly grown up too. But not yet too set in their ways to adapt to married life.
  #13  
Old 11-14-2017, 10:53 AM
Hector_St_Clare Hector_St_Clare is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheUser View Post
However, let me make one thing clear. I have never been around unmarried people, and I'm always the only unmarried person at work and in my social circles. I'm an educated white-collar white guy. The idea that people are not getting married absolutely does NOT ring true to me, it rings false. I'm 37 years old.
Anecdata are useful but they aren't that great at illustrating broad social trends. Most of the people I work with are married too, as are most people in my family (after their mid-30s say). I've had two ex girlfriends though say "I barely have any married people in my family / social circles". Both of them were from working class or poor backgrounds, which might explain the difference.
  #14  
Old 11-14-2017, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hector_St_Clare View Post
Anecdata are useful but they aren't that great at illustrating broad social trends. Most of the people I work with are married too, as are most people in my family (after their mid-30s say). I've had two ex girlfriends though say "I barely have any married people in my family / social circles". Both of them were from working class or poor backgrounds, which might explain the difference.

A quick search shows that marriage rates vary greatly with income levels. From here for instance:
Quote:
Today, there are a record 1 in 5 Americans who have never married, according to the Pew report, though there’s been a growing disparity along educational lines among men who have never married. Back in 1960, men of various education levels were about as likely to marry as they were not to marry. But today, men with just a high school degree or less are much more likely than men with advanced degrees to have never married – 25 percent compared with 14 percent, respectively.
I've seen better data on this.
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Old 11-14-2017, 07:48 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is online now
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Another tidbit of anecdata that randomly fell into my lap today.

I was chatting with the local pharmacist. This is the actual licensed pharm in charge, not one of the techs. She's young & perky & smart & all the rest. Turns out she got engaged last week. She turns 34 next week. Her hubby-to-be is the same age; they met as classmates as undergrads.

Compared to her Mom, she's getting married at least 10 years later. But she is getting married. And having been pals with this guy for over a decade, it'll probably last.
  #16  
Old 11-16-2017, 07:03 PM
TheUser TheUser is offline
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Thanks for the answers, I appreciate it.
  #17  
Old 11-19-2017, 08:45 AM
Bear_Nenno Bear_Nenno is offline
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Quote:
#1 is the Rate per 1000 married women. #2 is the Rate per 1000 Total Population.
If a recently married woman just started her fourth marriage, that's one married woman who racked up three divorces. That alone could cause significant differences in the rate per population versus the rate per married woman. Especially if each of her previous husbands had never been married and never remarried.
  #18  
Old 11-19-2017, 09:51 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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Multiple marriages and divorces among both men and women can produce a slightly deceptive overall divorce rate. It's possible for it to be true, for instance, that about 70% of marriages will eventually end in divorce and yet that only 44% of all people who ever get married will ever get divorced. For instance, to create a wildly simplified model, suppose we have a group of 1000 people who we arbitrarily are going to say will never marry anyone outside of that group of 1000. Suppose the 500 men in the group marry the 500 women (with one man and one woman in each marriage). Suppose then that 220 of those 500 marriages end in divorce. Suppose that each of those 220 divorced men then marry a different women among the 220 divorced women. Suppose each of those second marriages ends in divorce and then each of the 220 men marry one of the 220 divorced women who is not one of the two women that they were previously married to. Each of those third marriages end in divorce. Then there have been 1000 + 440 + 440 marriages for a total of 1880 marriages. 440 + 440 + 440 of those marriages have ended in divorce for a total of 1320 divorces. So about 70% of the marriages have ended in divorce, and yet only 44% of everyone who has ever been married will get divorced. This is (deliberately) an exaggerated example, but something less extreme is true. The percentage of people who get married who eventually get divorced is less than the percentage of marriages that end in divorce.
  #19  
Old 11-22-2017, 08:50 PM
TheUser TheUser is offline
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Just to follow up for anyone following this thread, I've confirmed that The Total Population Rate is misleading and inaccurate and experts reject it:

The Total Population Rate (inaccurate) is called "The Crude Rate" while the per-1000-Married-Women (accurate) is called "The Refined Rate."

http://www.wf-lawyers.com/divorce-statistics-and-facts/
The divorce rate in the U.S. is 3.2 per 1,000 population (as of 2014 the latest year of data from the CDC. (with 44 states and D.C. reporting) This is known as the “crude divorce rate”. Although useful for describing changes in divorce rates over time, the crude divorce rate does not provide accurate information on the percentage of first marriages that end in divorce.
Currently, the divorce rate per 1000 married women is 16.9. Many experts feel that this is a much more accurate measure of true divorce rate than the crude rate.


http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/12/15983/
The Crude Rate: Divorces per 1,000 people in a population: This number isn’t very useful, since it includes all people, even those—such as children, the unmarried, and elderly couples—who are not at risk for divorce.
Refined Divorce Rate: This is the number of divorces per 1,000 married women. A very precise annual number that gives the rate of divorce as a subset of the actual married population, the proper comparison.


So going back to my original post, Picture #1 (per 1000 married women) is the accurate divorce rate. Be careful whenever someone talks about the Crude Rate, per-1000-people generally, #2.
  #20  
Old 11-22-2017, 09:41 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is online now
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Thanks for coming back to fill us in. As a general rule, most posters keep some track of threads they've participated in and will welcome more info or a round two of conversation.
  #21  
Old 11-24-2017, 11:42 AM
actualliberalnotoneofthose actualliberalnotoneofthose is offline
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Not data but since other people are sharing anecdotes and observed trends: A lot of people in unhappy marriages that might be considered "successful" solely because they don't divorce just choose not to divorce for economic reasons, children, tradition, whatever. There are permanent separations in different locations, informal separations in the same house, years long estrangements with intermittent reconciliations, etc. Sometimes done in private, sometimes public or just known to certain family and friends, etc.
  #22  
Old 11-24-2017, 12:53 PM
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Are people who live together before marriage less likely to get divorced? That was one of the arguments when the practice first became widespread in the 70s, but it's hard to reconcile that with the statistics.
  #23  
Old 11-24-2017, 09:48 PM
Billdo Billdo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheUser View Post
Just to follow up for anyone following this thread, I've confirmed that The Total Population Rate is misleading and inaccurate and experts reject it:

The Total Population Rate (inaccurate) is called "The Crude Rate" while the per-1000-Married-Women (accurate) is called "The Refined Rate."
Thanks for the info.

I find it interesting that the refined rate is per 1000 married women. Historically, when marriages were uniformly one man, one woman, the number of married women was pretty much an exact match for the number of married couples.

Have they changed the statistics now that same sex marriages are legal in all U.S. states.

Also, are there reliable statistics for divorce rates for same sex couples and mixed sex couples, including whether they are different? I would assume that because of the relatively recent shift to the legality of gay marriage, the statistics would be skewed, but I'm not sure how.

Come to think of it, are there differences between the rates for marriages between gay men and those between lesbian?

Thanks
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