Good News About US Divorce Rate

Regular readers of know I’m fond of railing about the fallacy of that “half of marriage end in divorce” crap the mainstream media keep tossing around. Here’s another confirmation of it, this time – get this – in the mainstream media.

From the Washington Post last week:

[A statistical researcher] explains that this myth simply stems from bad math – dividing the divorce rate by the marriage rate in a given year. In 2014, there were 8.7 divorces and 17 marriages per 1,000 women in the United States, he says, citing figures from the American Community Survey. If you divide the first number by the second number, you get 51 percent.

The problem is that the people who are marrying each other in 2014 aren’t the same as the people who are divorcing each other in 2014. If you look at the data over a longer period of time, it becomes clear that the divorce rate is lower than half.

In fact, the rate has been declining for several years and is on track to reach a low of 33% within a few years if trends continue. The researcher, Nathan Yau at Flowing Data, charted divorce rates for different groups within the US. His findings:

  • The divorce rate is slightly higher for men than for women, presumably because men are more likely to be in subsequent marriages
  • The divorce rate is lower for those with a college degree than for those without one
  • The divorce rate varies dramatically by race, from a low of 18% for Asian women to a high of 45% for Native American women. The divorce rate among Hispanic women is 27%, it’s 38% among White women, and it’s 42% among Black women.

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