Citing US Census data and other federal sources of information about divorce, population experts had concluded that the divorce rate peaked in the late 1970s and had been on decline since then.
But Sheela Kennedy and Steven Ruggles from the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota have recently published a report that challenges this.
Their 2014 report in Demography has found that rather than decreasing, the divorce rate in the US has actually been steadily increasing for the past 30 years. Their findings have set off a startling and important reexamination of recent trends in divorce.
Their Divorce Case
The demographers took a closer look at the quality of the data that has been used to calculate divorce rates, comparing multiple sources of data. While previous population experts have been aware of various problems in the reporting of the data, they generally thought that more recent methods could be relied on to overcome these problems. But Kennedy and Ruggles found that even the better data sources had flaws in how data was collected and may have badly distorted the true divorce rate.
Good News – Divorce Related Questions
Luckily, in 2008 the US Census Bureau added divorce-related questions to the American Community Survey – a survey that annually collects data from a representative group of Americans. This is thought of as generally the best scientific assessment of the US population. The data collected from those questions gave researchers better information about the divorce rate.
Divorce Amongst Age Groups
Kennedy and Ruggles also looked into patterns of divorce among different age groups – finding that while it was thought the pattern of divorce across age groups indicated that divorce increased in young people until around 25 years of age and then steadily declined among older people, that actually, in the more recent decades, the divorce rate has not been declining as rapidly for those over age 35. People well into their 60s are divorcing at a higher rate than in previous decades. The authors conclude, “The age-standardized refined divorce rate increased substantially after 1990 and is now at an all-time high” (Kennedy &Ruggles, 2014).
Divorce Rates Conclusions
Divorce rates have actually been increasing, and increasing amongst couples well into their later years. Efforts to help couples strengthen marriages need more attention. Additionally, as proved in this study, going forward scholars should rely on the data in the American Community Survey.
For expert advice on divorce, you need an expert divorce attorney such as the law firm of Korol and Velen!