There’s a great deal of fog today about what the actual divorce rate is in the United States. Some say it’s around 50 percent, others—including some notable authors—say it’s nowhere close to that. Some incorrectly believe that the 50 percent number comes from a simple comparison of the number of weddings and divorces in a given year, yet no serious scholar or demographer has ever measured divorce rates that way.
In the world of sociology of the family, few pieces of seemingly objective data have so many different competing interpretations, as a 2014 study, creatively titled “Breaking Up is Hard to Count,” has noted. No one but a small handful of family scholars seems sure just what the current rate actually is. But it doesn’t need to be this way. It is important that those who care about the family know the actual divorce rate so we have a sober understanding of how bad the story is regarding marital longevity. And, if there’s good news, we should know that as well.
As it turns out, a detailed look at marriage and divorce statistics reveals both good and bad news. In fact, there is some remarkably good news buried in the data. Before we examine that good news, however, let’s establish what the actual divorce rate is and why so many different numbers are bandied about.
Read more at the Public Discourse.