Why Everyone Was So Wrong About America’s Alleged Divorce Rate

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Earlier this month, The New York Times debunked the long-held myth that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. But where exactly did that false statistic come from?

HuffPost Live’s Nancy Redd got the answer on Monday from William Doherty, a professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota. He explained:

[That statistic] has always been a projection, and it’s a 40-year projection, and it’s based on data from the early baby boomer generation, when the baby boomers were getting married. So if … 2 percent [of baby boomers] get divorced a year, if you have that sort of projection out over 35 or 40 years, then you have 50 percent or higher. So it was never a fixed amount of current marriages. It was always a projection about the future. And the divorce rate has gone down since the baby boomers were in their marrying age. So it wasn’t such a bad prediction at the beginning, but we’ve not kept up-to-date.

HuffPost Live’s panel also discussed why divorce rates may be falling among younger couples. One possibility is that people are marrying later and later in life, according to Marina Sbrochi, an author currently working on the book Nasty Divorce: A Kid’s Eye View.

“Way back when — you know, ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, ’50s — people got married a lot right out of high school because they’re trying to have sex, so they want to lock it up and get married,” Sbrochi said. “They were maybe rushing into marriages that they’re not vetting out, versus today, people are getting married a lot later. People are getting married in their 30s.”

Catch the full HuffPost Live conversation about the truth behind America’s divorce rates here.

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Faith Nouri is licensed to practice law in both the U.S. and Canadian Federal Courts. Ms. Nouri is an attorney at law in California, and a Barrister & Solicitor in British Columbia, Canada.