Divorce Statistics

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I often point to the current high divorce rates as evidence of human beings not being creatures capable of, or even desirous of, absolute long-term monogamy, vastly preferring short-term monogamy and/or temporary marriages instead. Usually I refer to either the "standard" divorce rate most often quoted, which is "50%", or another figure which is more reflective of people who live in major cities, or suburbs close to these cities, which is usually around 63-65% in the US and Europe.

-By Caleb Jones

A while back I promised that I would make a blog post that would really get into the details of these divorce stats, since there's a lot of confusion about these. Today is the day we get into the numbers to see what's really going on.

Looking Beyond The Numbers
The stats are important, and paint an important picture. However they don't tell the entire story. You can't just point at a stat and say "See??? There you go!". You often have to stop and think things through a little bit once you have the numbers. I admit that I myself have fallen into this trap, usually because I'm making a brief response on a blog comment or forum somewhere, and don't want write three paragraphs explaining the deeper nuances of the numbers I'm using.

I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about. Current statistics from right-wing Christian sources report that one out of three who have been married have also been divorced. A pro-marriage or pro-monogamy person could point at that and say "See??? The divorce rate is only 33%!"

First of all, even if that's true, which I will demonstrate in a moment it's not, 33% is still really terrible. I discuss that in item number 37 right here.
The reality is that looking at that one stat doesn't tell the true story. Far more than one out of three people get divorced. Why? Because:

1. That stat doesn't take into account the number of adults who have never been married or haven't been married yet. As I'll be showing you in a minute, that's a hell of a lot of people.

2. That stat doesn't take into account people currently married who haven't divorced their spouses yet, but who will at some point in the next few decades. Which again, as I will show in a minute, is a titanic number of people, both numerically and in terms of percentages.
Add those two together, and now that 33% figure is suddenly way off. As in, way too low.

Your risk of divorce is not about whether or not you've been divorced yet. Rather, it's based around the odds of you ever getting divorced at any point throughout your entire lifespan. I'm talking about the odds of you getting divorced, even once, at any time, from age 18 to 82, which is the average life expectancy of someone in the Western world.

That's 64 friggin' years, dude. That's a hell of a long time in which you risk divorce. If you get divorced at any time in those 64 years, congratulations, you become a statistic, and yet more evidence that humans are not long-term monogamous creatures.
Therefore, some stat that shows a bunch of people in their 20s or early 30s who haven't been divorced yet is not indicative of a) the prevalence of divorce in our society or b) your odds of getting divorced if/when you get legally married.
The point is that often you have to pause and think past the numbers you're given, not glance at a number and immediately assume the message you want that number to tell.

What Divorce "Rate" Means
Talking about the "divorce rate" is tricky, because the often quoted "standard" divorce rate of "50%" is what's called the "divorce to marriage ratio". It's not actually the divorce rate. It's the ratio of marriages to divorces in a given country that occur within a given individual year. As you might imagine, that really doesn't tell you much. In fact, whatever that number is for any given country is artificially low, since again, the relevant number is the possible occurrence of a divorce over 64 years, not just one year.

Therefore, if the annual divorce to marriage ratio in the United States is 50% (and the exact figure varies based on the study or source; often it's around 47%), then that means you have a 50% risk of divorce every year (not exactly; I'll explain in a minute).

So you get married at age 35 and think you're smart for waiting that long. In your first year, you have a 50% risk of divorce. After the year comes and goes, you made it! You're still married! But wait a minute, you have another year coming up, and another 50% chance of divorce. If you live to age 82, your marriage needs to survive another 46 years of this in order for you to NEVER have a divorce. See how low your odds really are?

The numbers and the math do not work out exactly as I just described; those preceding two paragraphs are just as an illustration. Regardless, my overall point stands: the real "divorce rate" is much, much higher than the annual divorce to marriage ratio reports.
Key Divorce Statistics
Here are a few recent stats, listed in no particular order (though I saved my favorite for last). Instead of filling this article with a bunch of ugly links, the sources for all the stats described are listed here if you want to read further: Source1, Source2, Source3, Source4, Source5, Source6, Source7, Source8, Source9, Source10, Source11, Source12, Source13, Source14, and Source15.

Okay, here we go:

1. Whenever you see "divorce rate declining" articles, this means the numerical amount of divorces per capita is indeed decreasing, but only because less people are getting married (choosing to cohabit instead), more people are getting married later in life, and women make more money and get more free stuff from government, thereby not needing to marry a man like they used to.

To illustrate, the median age of a man getting married is now 28, but in 1950 it was 23. This means you have less people between 23 and 28 getting divorced, since they're not married yet. The real story is that the rate of people actually getting divorced once they get married is actually increasing, especially for people over 40. For example...

2. Demographers say that based on recent census reports, the increase in divorce with people who actually get married is real and continues to "point in that direction", with 2009 numbers showing a roughly 46% increase in more recently married couples failing to reach their 25th wedding anniversary.
That's right. Even though everyone is saying the divorce rate is declining, it's actually increasing. Aren't numbers fun?

3. 46 percent of children in England will see their parents divorce by age 16. Yikes! Remember that the next time you hear someone try to use the "monogamy is the best way to raise kids" argument.

4. As I've said before, people married a very long time ago have much lower divorce rates. Roughly 75 percent of those who have been married since 1990 reported they had reached their 10-year anniversary. That's still pretty damn bad, but still much better than average people who get divorced today. This is why you can't say, "Well, it worked for my parents/grandparents!" Very different people, with very different Societal Programming, married in a very different time.
This means that if you've been married in the last few years, or get married at any time after you read this article, your risk of divorce is much higher than that of your parents or grandparents.

5. The average length of time for a marriage before divorce is seven years. Yes, the famous "seven year itch" is real...sort of. That seven year time frame is an average, mostly caused by a huge spike in divorces at three years (what have I always said about monogamy's three year time span?), five years, and ten years.

The five years thing is a result of people "sticking it out" and "trying to make it work" after the three-year mark of monogamy death. At three years the relationship peters out, but people try to stick it out for another two years before finally divorcing. Married couples are also cranking out babies during these time frames, so that's also a factor in this slight divorce delay. People get "baby NRE" or try to stick things out for the "good of the kids."

The ten years thing is because of women taking advantage of insane alimony laws. In many places (such as California), if your wife divorces you after ten years, you have to pay her alimony forever. So if she hates you at seven years, she just waits three more years and then divorces your ass. Then she sails off into the sunset, set for life. (And you're fucked for life.) Hence the huge spike in divorces right after the ten year mark in these municipalities.

6. Here's one that surprised me. Despite the increase in divorce and decrease in marriages, the frequency of remarriage has not changed much. That means people who get divorced are still dumbasses and still get remarried, usually without prenuptial agreements. About 18 percent of men and 16 percent of women born from 1940-1944 had been married two or more times by age 40, not statistically different from those born in 1960-1964 who had remarried by age 40.

Less than 20% of people who get married a second time get a prenuptial agreement, even though the divorce rate is higher for second marriages than for first marriages.
In other words, people are still complete and utter morons when it comes to marriage. Honestly, how insanely stupid do you have to be to get financially raped in a divorce, then go get married again without a prenup?
Disney still reigns supreme. Walt would be proud.
7. Less women divorce their husbands during bad economic times. During good economic times, more women dump their hubbies. Why? They can afford to, so they do it. Ah, monogamy.

8. For women under 40, the more money she makes, the less likely she is to get married. This is especially true if she has a sudden increase in income.

9. People are suddenly four times more likely to get divorced if they win the lottery. Hm...
The preceding three stats show you the real reason why many wives stay with their husbands. Hint: it's not because they like being married.

10. Okay, I saved the biggest and most important stat for last, the biggie that I consider a game-changer. That's the topic of "grey divorce", when people get divorced over the age of 50. The number of people getting divorced past age 50 has quadrupled since 1990. Divorces with people over the age of 50 (and 40) are at all-time, historic highs all over the Western world, and the rate is still increasing. To quote one of the above sources,

These findings suggest an important shift in our thinking about marital stability. Divorce rates have been going up and it's happening among couples well into their later years. Some of these divorces are among second marriages, but more long-term marriages are also breaking up.

As usual, most of these divorces are initiated by the wife, not the husband. Check out this woman bragging about how she divorced her husband right before she turned 50.

The reasons the experts are giving are because of increased lifespan and lifestyle-enhancing drugs like Viagra and Lipitor. My theory is much more simple. As I've said many times before, old people are looking better and better. As long as they don't gain weight (and I realize that's a big "if"), more and more women in their 40s and even 50s are looking pretty good. Just look at the picture of the 50 year-old woman who dumped her husband. She looks damn good for 50.

And that's my point. If you're 50+ married woman and you're fat, wrinkly, hunched over, with grey hair and saggy boobs, you're probably not going to dump your husband no matter how bored you are or how irritated you become. You know finding a new hubby will be damn near impossible. But! If you're 50+ and reasonably trim, have nice black or blonde hair, have had some surgical work done, and look 10 or 15 years younger than women your age did a few decades ago, divorcing your husband is no problem at all. You can dump his ass, get some free money, go be a cougar and fuck some eager younger men for a while, then scoop up another beta provider husband whenever you want. Add to that all the usual free government money, food, healthcare, housing, etc, women can and do get these days, and boom, you're covered, baby. It's a great deal (for you).

The reasons for older people to stay married just aren't there any more.
That's why this problem is going to get worse, as I predicted a long time ago. The better women (and men) look as they age, the less people are going to want to stay monogamous "forever." (Not that they actually wanted it in the first place.)
This grey divorce thing is indeed a game-changer, folks. Everyone thinks that if you just make it to past ten years in your marriage or whatever, you're in the clear and probably aren't going to get divorced. No longer true. Even I used to think that the odds of marriage were much better for men and women over the age of 50. I'm going to have to revise that now.

No age is safe any more. Having a longer marriage doesn't help. Being older doesn't help. As that Radioactive song says, "Welcome to the new age."
I've said it before, I'll say it again. Don't get monogamous. Don't ever expect long-term monogamy from a woman. Avoid legal marriage if possible. If you do get married, demand an enforceable prenuptial agreement or don't do it. Love, cohabitation, and having kids do not require monogamy or legal marriage.

The saddest part is that despite all this data, people are still going to defend traditional monogamous marriage. Societal Programming is strong, facts be damned.
Oh well. Just give them a link to this article. Not that it will change their mind.

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