July 6, 2007
We get this question all the time and the best we can say is that we don’t know. Based on data produced by the National Survey of Family Growth, 43% of first marriages by women aged 15-44 will end in a “disruption” within 15 years. Disruption is defined as either separation or divorce. As not all separations end in divorce (see Table 33 at the link) is would seem that the 50% figure is an overstatement.
The inestimable Cecil Adams of The Straight Dope takes a look at this “fact” and its probable genesis. While not endorsing this view, anyone writing about marriage and divorce should certainly consider the references he provides.
UPDATED DATA AVAILABLE HERE!
July 6, 2007
We posted below on the lack of detailed information on marriage and divorce. There are alternative resources available at the National Center for Health Statistics that enable one to draw inferences as to the marriage and divorce patterns of Americans.
In July 2002, we published Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United States. From our press release at the time:
Among the findings in the report: unmarried cohabitations overall are less stable than marriages. The probability of a first marriage ending in separation or divorce within 5 years is 20 percent, but the probability of a premarital cohabitation breaking up within 5 years is 49 percent. After 10 years, the probability of a first marriage ending is 33 percent, compared with 62 percent for cohabitations.
The study suggests that both cohabitations and marriages tend to last longer under certain conditions, such as: a woman’s age at the time cohabitation or marriage began; whether she was raised throughout childhood in an intact 2-parent family; whether religion plays an important role in her life; and whether she had a higher family income or lived in a community with high median family income, low male unemployment, and low poverty.
The tabular data provides a wealth of information cross tabbed by age, education, income, etc. It is a must-read for anyone writing on this subject. If you have questions give us a call at 301.458.4800.
July 6, 2007
We get a lot of questions on marriages and divorces. Unfortunately we are unable to answer very many of them.
On December 15, 1995 the National Center for Health Statistics filed a notice in the Federal Register of its intent to stop collecting detailed information on marriages and divorces from state governments through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program.
As a result, the last comprehensive data on marriages and divorces covers the period 1989-1990 (downloads available at links).
Currently data are available on the total number of marriages performed in the United States and each state. We provide a divorce rate for the nation and the number of divorces and annulments recorded in those states which report their data to us. California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, and Minnesota do not report divorce data.
At these links are marriage and divorce data from 1920 through November 2006. Newer data are reported in publications of our National Vital Statistics Reports and can be found here.