Half of all marriages end in divorce.
Don’t believe that!
Newlyweds who have taken the plunge and begun their new life together are faced with one not-so-happy statistic: their marriage only has a 50-50 chance of success. Fortunately, this number is simply based on bad math.
In 1981, for example, there were 2.4 million marriages in the United States, and 1.2 million divorces. This would appear to precisely support the oft-repeated divorce rate (1.2 million divided by 2.4 million = 50%). What it doesn’t take into account is the 50-million-plus existing marriages. The forecast is based on a couple’s odds of EVER divorcing, not the ratio of people who happen to get married and divorced in a particular year.
As for the actual rate, the data is somewhat imprecise since some states don’t report divorces to the National Center for Health Statistics. But most experts agree that the divorce rate peaked over thirty years ago and has been declining ever since. 70% of marriages that began in the 1990s reached their 15th anniversary (excluding spousal deaths), according to a University of Michigan study. That same study also showed that 83% of marriages in the 2000s had reached the seven-year mark.
The danger of relying on averages is that you are not average. For instance, if you don’t smoke, your life expectancy is higher than the average, which includes smokers. Marriage statistics are no exception. A couple’s odds of success increase with the following factors, among many:
– Getting married past age 20
– Living together prior to marriage
– Having a college degree
– Having parents who were not divorced
In summary, divorce rates were never 50% and are currently lower than ever. If you are not in a higher-risk group (young age, pregnancy), your odds are even better.