United States Annual Divorce Rates Are Flawed

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined, based on the number of divorces the previous year and total United States population, that 3.2 divorces occurred per every 100,000 people. This number is a reasonable estimation but isn’t exactly correct.


The data provided by the CDC is calculated by numbers provided from 44 states and Washington D.C. Some of those states only provide marriage totals or divorce totals. California, a state with nearly 40 million people, doesn’t report their marriage and divorce rates to the CDC. Also, there is no set requirement on how states are to retrieve these numbers, so who knows how genuinely accurate the totals are?

More so, when using the total population of the United States, you are including single people. If you’re single, you don’t have a risk of divorce, so why are single people include in the metric? Other than the CDC, nobody knows, but the system is flawed.

Speaking to fatherly.com, Betsey Stevenson, a labor economist and professor at the University of Michigan, says sociologists have begun to try and fix these inaccuracies by comparing the flows of marriages and divorce patters in a given year and the sociological differences of those getting married.

To illustrate an example of the flawed system, consider someone trying to figure out their likelihood of contracting lung cancer by examining the rates at which their grandparent’s generation got the same kind of disease. Regulations and awareness have increased so much since their grandparent’s time that those numbers have become irrelevant. Compiling different generational age groups into a number to represent all American demographics gives the total figures less relevance.

Divorce and baby boomers

As far as divorce numbers are concerned, by lumping the baby boomer generation into the average rate for all Americans, the numbers become very skewed due to the how many times baby boomers have divorced in comparison to other generations. Baby boomer divorce rates are so high because of multiple marriages ending in divorce. A reason for the marriage failures was getting married too early. An increase in vitality and life expectancy has also impacted the rise in gray divorce (anyone aged 50 or older).

On the other side of the spectrum, divorce numbers for millennials (anyone born between 1981 and 1996) have seen their generations divorce rate drop. Much of this has been due to them waiting to get married until they find the right person. The millennial generation is experiencing all they can while they are young in hopes of avoiding that first marriage failure by settling at a young age.