This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Divorce Rate is NOT Rising in the US

If you've read my book, you already know that the divorce rate in the U.S. (and in Europe) rose steadily after 1970, peaked just about as we hit the millennium, and seems to have leveled off since then. Not everyone has gotten the news, however, and I appreciate Professor Rumbaut having pointed me to an Upshot post today that tries to keep it real.
When Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin “consciously uncoupled” this year, ABC News said it was the latest example of the out-of-control divorce rate, “50 percent and climbing.”
When Fox News anchors were recently lamenting high poverty levels, one of them blamed the fact that “the divorce rate is going up.”
And when Bravo introduced its divorce reality show, “Untying the Knot,” this summer, an executive at the network called it “a way to look at a situation that 50 percent of married couples unfortunately end up in.”
Now, the reality is that the divorce rate does not seem to be rising, but it is not yet clear that it is declining, and it still may be that close to 50 percent of marriages will wind up ending in divorce. One of the real problems we have is that marriage and divorce data are no longer collected as vital statistics in the way they used to be, and so we rely on surveys. Note, for example, that the graph below of marriages ending in divorce came from data in the Survey of Income and Program Participation. These data need to be cross-checked with other surveys. This is why it is so important to let the Census Bureau know that we do not want questions about marital status deleted from the much larger American Community Survey. 

1 comment:

  1. some pertinent thoughts ... from just one human being who is re-arranging his relationships at this time :-)

    There is a very real trend in life now - where the world is re-shuffling itself. I'm talking about in a personal way ... friendships, marriages, commitments. Due to the global availability of the Internet and Social Media - it is now possible for human beings to find prospective mates - literally all over the world. It is a remarkable phenomenon in its own way!!! Is it a bad thing? I dont think it is necessarily bad at all - although it appears to generate a "divorce rate". If human beings find a greater happiness this way, the end result should be positive. So the demographic statistics may give the impression of a "divorce rate", but I think it has to be seen in terms of a global "connectedness" amongst human beings. It is probably too early to really tell what this trend implies. I DO think there is a positive "side effect" if we get people from really different backgrounds and cultures who marry each other ... it is a powerful force to overcome cultural barriers in our world.

    cheers, Pete, Redondo Beach