For close to 30 years, most analysts have agreed (per US Census data and other fed sources) that the rate of people who decide to file for divorce is actually falling throughout the country. The experts have looked to the peak rates of the 1970s for proof of their claims, and until recently, there has been little to challenge them.
But according to a new report from Sheela Kennedy and Steven Ruggles of the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota, the divorce rate isn’t going down at all; in fact, it’s going way up.
Kennedy and Ruggles make their case by taking a closer look at the quality of the data itself. “They compare multiple sources of data. In general, population experts have known there have been various problems in the reporting of data, but have generally thought that several more recent methods could be relied on to overcome these problems. Not so says Kennedy and Ruggles,” notes Robert Hughes, Jr., PhD, and a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in a recent article for Huffington Post. “They find that even the better data sources have flaws in the ways that data are collected and may have badly distorted the true divorce rate.”
The ‘Good’ News
It actually wasn’t until 2008 that the Census Bureau added divorce-related questions to its American Community Survey, which collects data annually from a representative group of Americans and is a superior scientific assessment of the US population. The data provides researchers with a more accurate depiction regarding the rate of divorce papers filings.
Good news for accuracy, but not so good when you get to revelations therein.
Kennedy and Ruggles also study divorce patterns among different age groups. One finding they make note of that goes with the recent trend in “gray divorce” is this: until recently, the trajectory of filings generally increased until the age of 25. After that point, it started to decline. However, according to researchers on the new report, a closer look at the data shows the divorce rate has not been declining as rapidly for individuals north of 35 years old.
The researchers showed that people “well into their 60s” are filing for divorce at a higher rate than in decades past, leading Kennedy and Ruggles to conclude that “The age-standardized refined divorce rate increased substantially after 1990 and is now at an all-time high.”
What Can Be Done About It?
Efforts to legislate couples into staying together will ultimately go nowhere. Divorce, like it or not, is still one of the last bastions of personal liberty that many people in bad relationships feel is available to them. That isn’t going away any time soon. While counseling and couples therapy is recommended for working through any savable issues, once the divorce is imminent, the best thing couples can do is keep conflict and bitterness as muted as possible. That’s why we recommend collaboration. If you think you and your spouse are good candidates for an online divorce, we can get you started today.