Debunking the Divorce Rate…

For decades, we’ve been told that nearly 50% of all marriages end in divorce…but is that really true? And, are there factors that are more likely to be predictors of divorce than others?

According to this interesting article in Time magazine, that 50% statistic may not necessarily be accurate.

Discussing the work of Tara Parker-Pope, a New York Times reporter and author of the book, For Better,  the article shares that:

Since the 1970s – when more women started going to college and delaying marriage – marital stability appears to improve each decade.  For example, about 23% of college graduates who married in the ’70s split within 10 years. For those who wed in the ’90s, the rate dropped to 16%.

Additionally, according to research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, one of the best predictors of long-term marriage is the age of the people taking the vows. Take the 1980s: a full 81% of college graduates who got hitched in that decade at age 26 or older were still married 20 years later. However, only 65% of college grads who said I do before their 26th birthday made it that far.

So, the research shows that getting married later may give you a better chance at long-term marital success. This makes sense to me. I’ve seen many of my friends who got married in their 20’s get divorced…but I think that has a lot to do with just not knowing yourself that well yet. There’s so much individual growth that takes place in your 20’s. I’ve seen it happen time after time  – get married young and that normal individual growth that takes place in your 20’s can sometimes make a couple grow apart.

Parker-Pope also argues in her book that all the talk about grim marriage statistics may actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy. “It makes us ambivalent and more vulnerable to giving up when problems occur,” she writes. I can also see the case for this. People give up on marriage very easily these days. And, as I shared in a previous article, one characteristic of long-term married couple is an unwillingness by the couple to throw divorce out on the table.

In tandem with that idea, Penn State sociologist Paul Amato, in a report interpreting divorce data, writes that the half-of-all-marriages-end-badly figure still “appears to be reasonably accurate.”  However, what came through is that less-educated, lower-income couples split up far more often than college grads and may be doing so in higher numbers than ever before. “The people who are most likely to get divorced have the least resources to deal with its impact, particularly on children,” says Amato.

So, what do you think of this? What trends have you seen among your friends and family relationships? Do you think that the divorce rate is at 50%?

To read more:,9171,1989124,00.html#ixzz1gZEvTZmh

Photo credit: ffffelix’s Flickr photostream   


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Categories: Discussion


I'm a married publicist who holds a Master's degree in psychology, with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy. I'd like to make the world a better relationship at a time.

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9 Comments on “Debunking the Divorce Rate…”

  1. Carla
    December 15, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    I am an adult student at an accredited university. I have gone back to finish my undergrad and am really enjoying getting to know these young women who are putting their education first so they can explore life before making a till-death-us-do-part type of decision. One thing I appreciate is the new approach mentors and advisors are taking – coaching young men and women to look at the whole picture when they are planning their lives and to marry. Not just – “Am I in love?” … but also “Will we be able to chart our path together?” It makes me optimistic about what’s in store for the next married generation.

    • December 16, 2011 at 2:49 am #

      Hi Carla: thanks for reading my blog!
      I didn’t know that advisers and mentors are doing that – very cool! I think it makes a whole lot of sense. It wasn’t that long ago that people were going to college to get their “Mrs.” degrees. We’ve come a long way….

  2. December 15, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

    Great point! Taking the time to know ourselves, the kind of person we’re compatible with, and persevering even when things aren’t too rosy sounds like such common sense… but that’s the probably the reason it actually works!

    • December 16, 2011 at 2:51 am #

      Hi Anne-Sophie! Thanks for following me!
      I agree. Self-awareness makes such a huge difference. The tough part is that we all – when we’re in our 20’s – think that we know everything already. So when you caution someone about getting married too early they usually tell you that you’re nuts.

      • December 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

        I know exactly what you’re talking about… but the other way around. I almost got married last year (I’m 22.) Boy am I glad I waited though! I took older women’s advice, even though I didn’t understand. Even just a year later, I’ve seen how much I’ve changed! I’d love a few articles on figuring all this stuff out when you’re young =]


  3. adalamar
    December 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    A great and very interesting post! I think that marriages are getting mroe and more disposable. Yet the people I know are very much anti divorce when they do get married. Personally, I have never been married, though came close a couple of times. When I do get married, unless there is abuse or infedility, I just cannot imagine getting a divorce either. Those vows are sacred.

  4. December 16, 2011 at 2:53 am #

    I agree, Adalamar.
    People quit very easily. People also too often go outside their relationship seeking whatever they think is missing in their marriage…instead of just communicating with their partner. It’s such a shame.

  5. December 21, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    Thanks for bringing these stats to our attention. We all need all the encouragement we can get not to give up. Marriage is definitely the marathon, and not the sprint!!

    Appreciate your blog!

  6. Beauty with imperfections
    January 6, 2012 at 12:00 am #

    I agree with you so much on this article. It really is sad how many people just do not seem to value marriage anymore like they used to 😦

    You should check out my blog, I’ve written articles on hollywood divorces and how the numbers keep staggering!

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