Half of all marriages ending in divorce is a statistic that has been around so long that people automatically consider it gospel. However, reality tells a different story.
In reality, marriage being a half-and-half proposition potentially ending in divorce would discourage the most eager bride or groom-to-be. The percent of marriages that end goes beyond what is considered a flawed statistic. In reality, the long-held percentage is meaningless.
Crunching the divorce numbers
The 2019 American Community Survey provides the most recent data, putting divorce rates at nearly 15 per 1,000 marriages. That represents the lowest number going back more than 50 years. Drilling down to year-by-year numbers presents significant complications.
Some look to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which notes that out of 1,000 people, 3.2 divorces occurred. Psychologists see the metric as crude, if not imprecise. Collecting data is not consistent among 44 states and the District of Columbia. Some count marriages but not divorces, while others do the opposite.
Sociologists have tried to take a more direct approach that looks at the entire year and counts the number of marriages and divorces. However, that fails to account for marriages that occur in previous years and end in divorce during the year that is studied.
Many feel that this flawed approach is how the 50-50 stat was created.
Experts believe that divorce rates rose in the seventies due to the advent of no-fault divorces that created a more efficient process, a theory that is in dispute. What everyone can agree on is that divorce in the United States has been on the decline since the ’80s and continues to fall steadily over the decades.