25% of first marriages end in divorce, not 50%

I got the Shaunti Feldhahn divorce data book much sooner than expected.  I haven’t had a chance to read it all the way through yet, but she is using census stats, so isn’t just making up stuff.  That said, the 25% number is an estimate derived from taking widows out of the data on first marriages where the person is still married to their first spouse.  Otherwise, the number is 72% of first marriages with first spouse.

The 50% number was a projection based on trends at the time it was formulated, and even then it was 40-50%.

Anyone saying likelihood of marriage ending in divorce is 50% is not looking at how many ever-married people have divorced.

What did happen, and she notes this, is that before the 1970s divorce spikes, marriages remained intact 85% of the time.  That dropped to 70-72% (remember, this includes intact marriages where death ended the marriage, otherwise it’s closer to 75%) by 1985 and stayed there.  Interested parties might look at that stability and contrast it with fertility declines over the same period of time.

The interesting thing to me is that a 25% divorce rate is miserably bad, but there is enough data to show it’s remained constant over several marriage cohorts.  And it’s, well, it’s half of 50%.  I haven’t gotten to the part where she compares by age bracket, but that should be interesting.

 

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3 thoughts on “25% of first marriages end in divorce, not 50%

  1. As we all know, the manosphere is very keen on the idea of marrying much younger women as some sort of divorce preventative. Aside from the early age and lack of higher education being themselves risk factors for divorce, it turns out that an age difference raises the chance of divorce, and the bigger the gap, the higher the risk:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/11/why-to-marry-someone-your-own-age/382520/

    “Today, Olson released another set of visuals—the most intriguing of which focuses on the matter of the age gap. A one-year discrepancy in a couple’s ages, the study found, makes them 3 percent more likely to divorce (when compared to their same-aged counterparts); a 5-year difference, however, makes them 18 percent more likely to split up. And a 10-year difference makes them 39 percent more likely.

    “Once you enter large-gap territory—the 20-year difference, the 30-year difference—the odds of divorce are … almost never in your favor.”

    Spouses with a 20-year difference are 95% more likely to divorce while couples with a 30-year gap are 172% (!!!) more likely to divorce.

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  2. The number comes from a very poor application of stats. I also suspect it’s meant to breed the anti-marriage sentiment prevalent in my generation. It worked, if anyone’s wondering.

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    • Maea said:

      “The number comes from a very poor application of stats. I also suspect it’s meant to breed the anti-marriage sentiment prevalent in my generation. It worked, if anyone’s wondering.”

      Yeah. You hear the 50% number all the time.

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