50% of ALL marriages end in divorce?

I’ve seen this “fact” bandied about for as long as I can remember. Is it true?

I’ve seen people quote “sources” that say, “Well, last year there were 1,000,000 marriages and 500,000 divorces, therefore 50% of marriages end in divorce.”

How many of those divorces in that year were from the marriages in the same year?

What’s the Dope?

Cecil’s article on the subject: Is it true half of all marriages end in divorce?.

And, while you’re at it, search for “divorce” using the Message Board search engine, specifying “Comments on Cecil’s column.” I’m sure there have been informative threads about this.

“50% of ALL marriages end in divorce?”

Yup, that seems about right in my life. :wink:

Clearly, you are referring to marriages & divorces in the USA. There are many other countries in the world where the divorce rate is significantly lower than 50% (think India, for example, although the 'divorce rate is increasing and I can’t give you a cite on the current rate).

Until relatively recently in human history, marriage had very little to do with romantic love and much more to do with getting property, creating alliances between families and consolidating power; romantic love was icing on the cake if it happened but was not the cake itself. (Romantic love seems to have been the historical domain of adulterers, interestingly enough.) Due to a number of societal changes in many countries (less stigma for divorce, women having the ability to prevent conception despite intercourse, less stigma for those who choose not to marry, women being able to earn a good living on their own, etc.) fewer people get married and more of those who do are willing to divorce when they feel the marriage is not longer viable. The criteria for ‘‘no longer viable’’ have also slid way down in the last half-century or so.

This is not a plug for arranged marriages, or a post to bash poor Americans for their poor success rate in maintaining marriages over the long haul. The arranged marriage may have less risk of collapsing under stress, but the high cost to those unhappy but trapped souls is not something I would want to be stuck with either.

Since the question has been answered, I feel safe in sharing my favorite response to someone quoting this statistic:

You thank that’s bad? The other 50% end in death!

Tagging on to the previous post – a couple of reasons why, in previous generations, there were fewer divorces:

  1. People died younger. “'Til death do us part” might have been a very short time. Think of all the orphans and motherless children in your typical pre-20th century story. Losing a parent was not that uncommon.
  2. Women had many fewer options to support themselves if they were not married. “Upper-class” women could either marry or rely on the charity of relatives. They had no marketable skills. The pressure to deal with whatever problems existed in your marriage – including infidelity or abuse – was enormous.

The article cited was very good. Statistics can easily be skewed many ways. There is a difference between the percentage of **marraiges **ending in divorce and the percentage of **people **whose marraiges end that way.

In just my family, I have a brother who had been divorced three times and a son divorced two times. That’s a lot of divorces for just two people, so what’s the divorce rate for those two people?
Me, I’ve been married to the same woman for 53 years.

Reminds me of the joke: Did you hear about the statistition who drowned in a pond whose average depth was just three feet?

100% of mine did. :frowning:

Exactly. The true statement behind these numbers is that “For every two marriages that occurred in the 1990s, there was one divorce.” Call this the divorce rate if you must, but it should not be implied that one of the aforementioned marriages is going to end in divorce.

Marriage is even less likely currently, as lengthy cohabitation is cheaper, less binding, and more popular.

I’m trying to google this, and basically coming up with constant conflict. No one agrees on this number, and most sites have numbers with no explanations, or even sources. Most of these numbers need an essay, or at least a paragraph next to them, not four words or a sentence. People can make up statistics to prove anything. 14% of people know that.

Mine, too. 50% would be an improvement.

Apu: Mother, you know that 1 out of every 25 arranged marrages end in divorce.