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Jan 8th, 2009

Online Calculator Gives Divorce Odds

A new online calculator designed by a professor of public policy offers individuals the opportunity to answer a brief set of demographic questions and find out the odds of their marriage ending in divorce, based on census data. As the calculator's creator Betsey Stevenson put it, "Different types of people face different divorce rates historically," and you can see how your marriage "stacks up" against other similar couples in the United States.

Who's Already Divorced, How Many Can Be Expected to Divorce

You can find out:

  • What percentage of married couples with factors similar to yours are already divorced, and
  • What percentage are likely to divorce within the next five years

You do this by answering just five questions:

  • 1. When did you marry? Answer choices: Before 1960 / 1960–1979 / 1980-present
  • 2. Do you have children?
  • 3. What is your education? high school dropout / high school graduate / some college / college grad or higher
  • 4. How old were you when you got married?
  • 5. How many years have you been married?

The Supposed Fifty Percent Failure Rate Is Wrong

Professor Stevenson, of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, performed a statistical analysis of U.S. census data and other information, and she found that the "common wisdom" that "50 percent of all new marriages will end in divorce" is not true.

In fact, she notes that "The ubiquitous 50 percent divorce rate is unlikely to ever be true for those who married in the past few decades…for many of these folks, their divorce rates so far have fallen substantially compared with previous generations."

A number of other interesting findings were revealed, including:

  • The younger the individuals are at the time of marriage, the higher the chance of divorce.
  • The divorce risk is lower for individuals who have attained a college degree or higher and get married later in life. Among the couples who married in recent years, the divorce rate is lowest for those who married in their 30s.
  • The likelihood of divorcing doesn't disappear after 25 years of marriage, but it does lower somewhat.
  • Although the divorce rate today is actually lower than it was in the 1970s, it's difficult to predict an accurate divorce rate for couples marrying now, because Americans are living longer. As Dr. Stevenson points out, "All marriages end either by divorce or by death. The downside of living longer is a greater probability of divorce as a marriage outcome."

(Source: OC Register)

If you've already decided to divorce — or need to know more about the process — contact us to speak with an experienced family law lawyer in your area today.


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