Family · general · Life · Love

Can You Always Believe Statistics?

Divorce. Scary word huh? I know it is for my Fiance and I.

We often hear that “half of all marriages end in divorce.” But does this mean that half of all marriages that occurred last year ended in divorce? Of course not.


Let’s say that 100,000 couples married last year, and the courts granted 50,000 divorces. It appears like 50 percent of marriages ended in divorce. But this does not make sense because this percentage measures the number of weddings that took place in only one year, against the number of divorces among all weddings that have taken place over many years—10, 20, 30 years ago, or even longer.

What then is a better method of understanding the frequency of divorce? One method is to examine the rate of divorce per 1,000 people, which is called the crude divorce rate. In the United States in 2009, this rate was 3.4 divorces per 1,000 people, definitely not as sensational as the “50 percent” measure. Since many different countries use this method, it makes international comparisons easier. However, the crude divorce rate is problematic. Many people are not married, so why should they be included in a divorce statistic? In determining the divorce rate, it makes more sense to focus on how many married people get divorces. Therefore, another method of measuring the frequency of divorce is the refined divorce rate, or the number of divorces that occur per 1,000 married women ages 15 and older. (Note: the measure is computed using women but not men). The refined divorce rate was 16.9 divorces per 1,000 married women, or fewer than 2 percent a year, a much less sensational number than the familiar “half of all marriages end in divorce,” but considerably more accurate and useful.

The refined divorce rate provides a one-year snapshot of how many married women divorce. The other 983 out of 1,000 married women who did not divorce in that year could get a divorce the following year, or the year after that, or 10 years later, of course. So even though a married woman had less than a 2 percent chance of divorcing in one year, she has a far greater chance of divorcing over the course of her married life.

What is unknown is just how high are her chances of a future divorce. We do not know whether half of all current marriages will end in divorce because the divorce rate is always fluctuating. We do know, however, that the frequency of divorce is related to both micro-level choices and macro-level social factors, such as divorce laws, women’s economic opportunities, and other norms.

These facts definitely do not “unscare” me, but they are kind of reassuring.

Another thing to remember is, divorce is more commonly excepted in today’s time. People find it easier to just give up on problems instead of trying to fix them. This is where I know that my Fiance and I are different. I know that marriage isn’t easy in the least bit, but I also know that any issues we may have we can work it out.

In my book: divorce is not an option. I intend to keep it that way. My grandparents are still together… even after 40 plus years. They have had some bumpy times, but the greatest thing is that they worked everything out and still remain together.

The easy thing to do is give up and move on, but the right thing to do is stay true to your vows. Don’t let statistics scare you.


2 thoughts on “Can You Always Believe Statistics?

  1. Hi there, happy christmas to you. Thinking of divorce before your are married is an interesting concept. You have shown that we can beleive whatever statistics we want to beleive, but you will only know what is true of you if you give it a go. Doing whats feels right is likely to make you much happier in the long run than doing what you think is right.

    1. I agree with that for sure. I was simply stating that you should let statistics scare you because you are not everyone else and if you truly want it… you can defy all odds.

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