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1/2 of All Marriages Don't Fail! Do the math!

wed.jpg I’m sure that everyone has heard the stat: “50% of all marriages end in divorce.” That statistic has been a pet-peeve of mine for years. It’s completely false and would like everyone that reads this to NEVER use that phrase again, please.

I downloaded several reports from the CDC and the census to get the number of marriages and divorces. Funny, they report the number of marriages (they track it through marriage licenses issued), but they don’t track the total number of divorces. According to the CDC’s National Vital Statistics Report from 2006, there were 2,249,000 marriages. That is a rate of 7.3 per 1000. The total divorces are not given, because they don’t have a way to track it. However, they have a rate of 3.6 per 1000. So, 3.6 is about half of 7.3, so that’s where the 50% (well, almost 50% comes in). So, best I can figure taking 49.3% of 2.249 million is 1,109,095 end in divorce.

So, that’s it? Case closed. The stats prove it, right? Wrong. According to the census, the total number of marriages is about 55.2 million. So, we just established that 1.109 million marriages fail each year for 50% of all marriages to fail 27.6 million couples need to get divorced. Follow me? Each year 2.2 million go into the marriage pool while 1.1 million get out. So, each year we are adding another 1.1 million to the total population of married people.

Think of it this way. The first year, I give you two apples. Half way through the year, I take one away. Now you have one apple. (Am I typing slow enough for you?) The second year, I give you two more apples, for a total of 3. Half way through the year, I take 1 (not 1.5 away). Now, you have 2 apples at the end of the year. Year three, I give you 2 more apples, for a total of 4 and take one away 6 months later. So you end the year with 3. Are you following me here, camera guy?

So, with 55 million marriages in the pool and 1.1 million failing, actually puts the divorce rate at…..(drumroll please)……2% of all marriages fail.

If we used the same 50% logic, then the headlines should read:

56% of All People Die Every Year

Because the rate of births in 2006 were 14.3, while deaths came in at 8.1 or 56%. But see, the 4.3 million people born in 2006 joined the almost 297 million living people in America while 2.4 million went to the big Sham-Wow in the sky.

Like Mark Twain said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Comments?