T Nation

Divorce Rate Stats Are Junk


I've pointed out several times how the "50% of all marriages end in divorce" stat is problematic due to the bias of the repeat failure in the numbers; i.e., some guy who has 5 marriages that all end in divorce is counted as five failures in the stats, while one couple who is married for 65 years counts as 1 good marriage.

However, I didn't have any other source to show how powerfully that biases the result until I saw this today in the WSJ's Real Time Economics blog:

[i] September 19, 2007, 2:00 pm
Has Marriage Rebounded?

After a years-long slide, the decline in the length of marriages has slowed down and even shown signs of an uptick, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

People still have shorter marriages than they did in the 1950s the number of couples that make it to their 10th anniversary has fallen steadily for couples married after 1959: Men married between 1955 and 1959 made it to their 10th anniversary 90% of the time, while men married between 1970 and 1974 made it 73% of the time.

Changes in the law, and greater social acceptance of divorce, are largely blamed for the increase in divorces. Divorce rates jumped in the early 1970s, just as divorce got easier.

Since then marriages have for the most part held steady, and in some cases increased. Men and women married between 1975 and 1979 saw only a slight decrease in longevity, while those married between 1985 and 1989 made it to their 10th anniversary 75% of the time. The proportion of people making their 5th and 15th anniversaries also appears to have stabilized.

The marriages could end in either death or divorce. And while Americans have been getting married later in life, stabilizing divorce rates appear to be the driving factor.
Conor Dougherty[/i]

Note it's not a perfect corrolation of the measurements, but I think we can safely assume those who are married for 10 years have a much reduced likelihood of getting a divorce (much like life-expectancy statistics can be severely impacted by infant mortality rates).

So, all things being equal, the average person entering a marriage has a 75% chance of making it to the 10th anniversary. That seems to be to be a fairly stark contrast to claims that the average marriage has a greater than 50% chance of ending in divorce...


Cool. I wonder how many of that extra 25% is completely miserable and just don't want to go through the hassle of a divorce.

And if this is true, we can give the big middle finger to the religious folk who cite this stat as a way of showing how or morality has dropped due to our lack of spirituality.



You're pretty young to be that jaded... Not everyone lives a life of quiet desperation.


I haven't met too many happy married people.


Who has two thumbs and is a happy married person?

This guy!

It's just anecdotal, but I think you'd find quite a few happily married folks around here. And I know quite a few - I suppose your sample can matter a lot...


Really? Is it because
a) the insitution of marriage sucks,
b) the human tendency to form pairs is outdated,
c) you know the wrong people,
d) of your definition of happiness,
e) it sounds good to say so,
f) some other reason?


If you look anything like your avatar, I'm sure ALL the married men tell you they're unhappy.


No not everyone leads lives of quiet desperation, probably just 90% of people...that's being generous.

And congradulations on being happily married (I honestly mean that). But how LONG have you been married? :slight_smile:


I'm married and happy.

Look some people just shouldn't be married to each other and that usually sorts itself out pretty quick.

If you are married to someone for a long time you are going to have ups and downs. Nobody can be happy, about everything, for 10-20-30 years. However you need to put the relationship ahead of yorself sometimes, and your mate needs to do the same. Being selfish is the downfall of most marriages.


I've been very happily married for 16 years.

The longer we are together, the happier we are.


Thanks Natural Nate. I've been married for 2 years myself. My happily married brother has been married for almost 3 years. My parents and inlaws, who both seem to have happy marriages to me, have been married for around 35 years.

My sister in law and brother in law got a divorce after 10 years - they weren't too happy. But they're the only divorce in my immediate family - all my aunts and uncles - in-law and otherwise - have long marriages and seem happy. That's more of a guess on my part though, as I don't know them as well.

But my grandparents are my role models -- they've been happily married for 64 years. One more and their marriage can retire... But they don't want it to, and I hope they keep going for a long time.


I thought this would be an interesting addition to the thread. Seems as though this gal wants marriages to automatically dissolve after seven years. Kind a like a car lease. I wonder, will I be charged for mileage and dings? :-] LOL!

Anyways, here goes......


Glamorous politician wants law to allow 7-year itch

By Madeline Chambers
Fri Sep 21, 4:00 AM ET

Bavaria's most glamorous politician -- a flame-haired motorcyclist who helped bring down state premier Edmund Stoiber -- has shocked the Catholic state in Germany by suggesting marriage should last just 7 years.

Gabriele Pauli, who poses on her web site in motorcycle leathers, is standing for the leadership of Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU) -- sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) -- in a vote next week.

She told reporters at the launch of her campaign manifesto on Wednesday she wanted marriage to expire after seven years and accused the CSU, which promotes traditional family values, of nurturing ideals of marriage which are wide of the mark.

"The basic approach is wrong ... many marriages last just because people believe they are safe," she told reporters. "My suggestion is that marriages expire after seven years."

After that time, couples should either agree to extend their marriage or it should be automatically dissolved, she said.

Fifty-year-old Pauli, twice divorced, is a maverick intent on shaking up her male-dominated and mainly Catholic party which has dominated Bavarian politics since World War Two.

"This is about bringing ideas into the CSU and starting a discussion," she told German television on Thursday after she had unleashed a wave of criticism from other politicians.

Former foe Stoiber said she did not belong in the CSU and European lawmaker Ingo Freidrich dismissed her views.

"She is diametrically contradicting our Christian, ethical values," Freidrich said.

Peter Ramsauer, head of the CSU in Germany's parliament, compared Pauli's ideas to "the dirt under your fingernails".

Pauli, who attracted attention earlier this year when she posed for a magazine wearing long black latex gloves, was at the centre of a snooping scandal which eventually led to Stoiber, Bavarian premier for 14 years, saying he would stand down early.

She said his office tried to obtain details about lovers and alcohol consumption to use against her.

The CSU will elect Stoiber's successor as party head at a conference next week. He will be replaced as state premier in early October.

Viewed as a party rebel, Pauli stands almost no chance of winning next week's vote. The contest has been fought mainly between Bavarian state economy minister Erwin Huber and German Consumer Minister Horst Seehofer.

The popularity of Seehofer, a 58-year-old married father of three, has suffered from the disclosure that he had been having an affair with a younger woman who recently had his baby.


Interesting, but it would give one partner a hell of a lot of power. Who gets the money after seven year? The house? The kids?

Not a good system. To similar to Orson Scott Card's Dystopian/Mormon (yeah, I know) Homecoming series, if you ask me (highly recc'd series cept the last one BTW).

And I'm not THAT jaded. It was more of a joke. I think marriage gets a bit of a bum rap because people are getting married a little too quickly these days (note: I said quickly, not early).


Early, too. Most people simply aren't prepared to make that decision in their early or even mid 20's.


I married my wife 4 months and 13 days after meeting her for the first time.

She was 19.


I haven't met too many happy single people.


Of course not.


I haven't met too many happy people.

There, it needed to be said, and although that was a tongue-in-cheek comment, I don't know how inaccurate it really is. A lot of people are pretty depressed it seems, or if they're not, they are at least not particularly happy with their lives. But, that's another thread...


I've met plenty of happy people, both single and married.

Wtf is wrong with all of you? Do you all live in Sweden during the winter of something?


Well looks like we have our answer...it's genetic!!!!