As the saying goes, “Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure.” Although the generally accepted statistic for the divorce rate in America is 50% and rising, a more in-depth recent analysis of divorce data seems to indicate that the number is exaggerated. According to these analysts, the current divorce rate is less than 50% and is not, in fact, rising. Once the data is analyzed by decade, it appears that high divorce rates may have been an anomaly of the 1960s and 1970s and that marriages entered into in the 1990s and 2000s have proven to be more enduring.
The Divorce Rate Since World War II
The Baby Boomer Generation, referring to those born between 1946 and 1964, is one of the largest generations in recent years, at 75 million. The size of that number in comparison to subsequent generations results somewhat in a skewing of statistics. The divorce rate went up after World War II, then declined, then shot up again in the 1960s and 1970s, a time of revolutionary changes in social norms. The rate leveled off again in the 1980s. The peak overall divorce rate during those pivotal times was at 22.6 per 1,000 marriages in 1980. By the year 2000, the number had reduced to 18.8.
The 50% statistic that is bandied about so much was derived from the fact that there are approximately 2.4 million marriages per year in the United States and 1.2 million divorces. The defect in this statistical assessment is that the vast majority of those getting divorces were married in previous years, when the population was lower and perhaps the marriage rate was different. So no reliable conclusions about the divorce rate can be derived simply by looking at the number of marriages and divorces in any one year.
Demographers are somewhat hampered by the lack of detailed data due to decreased federal funding on divorce rates since 1996. Not all states collect data on divorces, but nevertheless, the U.S. Census Bureau has calculated the “crude divorce rate,” which is the number of divorces per general population of 1,000. Since the population necessarily includes unmarried adults and children, the crude rate is obviously not highly specific. However, it does reveal that the crude divorce rate went from 2.2 in 1960, to 5.3 in 1981, and then down to 3.6 in 2007.
A more useful divorce rate is the number of divorces per 1,000 married women. According to this metric, the refined divorce rate declined from 18.8 divorces per 1,000 married women in 2000, to 17 divorces in 2007, and to 16.9 in 2008. However, as stated previously, the fact that not all states compile statistics on divorce makes this measure somewhat misleading as well.
A Forward Look at Divorce in America
Here are some encouraging statistics for marriages entered into after the 1990s:
- Nearly 70% of 1990s marriages reached their 15th wedding anniversary, up from 65% of marriages from the 1970s and 1980s.
- Marriages entered into the 2000s have proven to be more enduring, with a divorce rate of less than 15%.
- One analyst believes, if the current trend continues, that nearly two-thirds of marriages will never end in divorce.
If you happen to be in the unfortunate group of those seeking a divorce, the assistance of a highly qualified West Palm Beach Divorce Attorney is crucial to help you navigate through the tumultuous legal waters. The Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. serves clients in Palm Beach County (Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, and Boynton Beach) as well as Martin, Broward, Hendry, St. Lucie, Okeechobee, and Miami-Dade Counties. Mr. Cunha is a highly qualified attorney who is dedicated to protecting and furthering his clients’ legal interests. Call us today at (561) 429-3924 to schedule a consultation.