We have a secret. You’ve been lied to… about the divorce rate. At some point, every adult in America is told that the divorce rate is 50%. That’s a lie, but once the number is stuck in your head, it makes it hard to focus on making a marriage a success because you’re worried about being the half that fail.
The Figure Is False
Despite the fact that there are numerous articles citing experts that debunk the 50% statistic, it’s still the stat that we all continue to hear. In fact, over the last 20 years the divorce rate has actually declined. Here’s why the 50% rate is really a secret lie:
It wasn’t calculated off of the actual number of marriages and divorces. Instead, it was a projection from the 1970s. The projection was based on the baby-boomer generation and stated that if 2% of those married continued to divorce each year, the divorce rate would eventually hit 50%.
A projection in this sense isn’t accurate because there’s no actual tracking of the marriage and divorce rates. Rather, it’s an “if” matter. If the number of divorces rise 2% each year, then we will see a divorce rate of 50% in the coming years. In short, they took what they believed would become a trend and never calculated the actual divorce rate. Because the rate was continually repeated over the years, it became an unquestioned “fact” related to marriage.
Why the Divorce Rate Has Dropped
In the 1970s and 1980s, the divorce rate went up as no-fault divorces became the norm in many states. However, as you learned in the last section, the divorce rate has actually declined over the last 20 years. Almost 70% of marriages entered into during the 1990s made it to their 15th wedding anniversary. According to University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers, if the divorce trends continue in this manner, then 2/3 of couples will not get divorced.
There are many factors that have contributed to the decline in divorces. First, the average age of the bride and groom continues to go up. With age generally comes a bit more maturity and wisdom. College graduates tend to marry later in life and have a lower risk of divorce. Another factor is the access to birth control which means less stress from unplanned pregnancies.
Another common factor that contributes to a lower divorce rate is that some people simply aren’t getting married. The acceptance of people who live together but who are not married means that fewer people get married. Obviously, without a marriage there is no divorce. That’s certainly not to minimize the impact of ending a relationship that involves cohabitation without marriage.
Who Is Getting Divorced?
Now that you know more about why the divorce rate has declined, you may be wondering which demographics are more likely to get divorced. Around 39% of men with a high school education or less get divorced. This is compared to 37% of women with a high school education or less who get divorced. Less than 30% of people with a four-year college degree will get divorced. African Americans have around a 40% chance of filing for divorce. Native Americans have around a 50% likelihood of divorcing. Statistics for this article are taken from The Washington Post.
It’s Not All about Statistics
Marriage and divorce aren’t just all about statistics. Ultimately, we are discussing two people who decide to get married and have a life together. Every marriage is different. You don’t have to qualify yourself and your likelihood of experiencing a divorce based solely on the facts above. You can take heart in the fact that each statistic above still falls below the 50% lie.
However, if you’re considering a divorce and have questions, call Petrelli Previtera Schimmel for answers. Divorce is more than just a legal process. It’s also emotionally difficult. We understand. As Pennsylvania divorce trial lawyers, we’re here to help. If you live in Pennsylvania or New Jersey and you would like more information on how divorce may specifically affect you and your assets, call Petrelli Previtera Schimmel to schedule your consultation: 215-523-6900.