How to Lie with Divorce Statistics


There is an old saying often attributed to Mark Twain that goes… “there are three kinds of lies:  lies, damned lies and statistics.”

There are all types of misleading or false examples about divorce statistics by people who have a particular point of view about what meaning we should draw from rising or falling divorce rates.

Among the most troublesome examples is provided by this website which attempts to demonstrate that most of the worst problems in society (for example, murder, rape, armed robbery, etc.) are all the result of divorce.   Below is a sample of one of the tables at this website.  In this graph the author asserts that the divorce rate causes the murder rate to increase.  However, all this graph really shows is that there is a correlation between the murder rate and the divorce rate.  In statistics a fundamental idea is that the “correlation” between two numbers does not translate into a “causal” relationship.  There are at least three hypotheses that can explain the correlation between rates of murder and divorce:

  1. Murder causes divorce.
  2. Divorce causes murder.
  3. Some other factor (mental illness or spouse abuse) causes both divorce and murder.

The only way to figure out what is causing murder or divorce rates from rising is to test many different hypotheses and control for some of the possible other factors that may be contributing to changes in the rates.  It is important to test whether rates in one period of time predict future rates.

There are plenty of real consequences of divorce that should concern us without suggesting that all of society’s ills are the result of divorce.

Alert: false graph about divorce and murder rates

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Are more well educated women less likely to get divorced?


Probabilty of marriage remaining intact by educational level for women                                                                                                                                                       There is considerable evidence that suggests that women with more education are less likely to get divorced.  In this chart from the National Center for Health Statistics, you can see the percentages of women with various amounts of education and they likelihood that there marriages will last 20 years.  You can see that women with a college education are much more likely to have marriages that last over 20 years (about 80%).  There is a similar trend for men, but it is less dramatic.

A comprehensive report on trends in US marriage and divorce rates can be found at the National Center for Health Statistics.

Current Trends in Divorce Rates– US and the World


I just reviewed some of the latest demographic information about trends in terms of divorce rates in the US and around the world.  Here are links to these updated summaries. 

Divorce Rates- Caribbean & Central America 2010


Divorce Rate Caribbean- Central America 2010

 

The United Nations publishes an Annual Demographic Year Book for 2011 includes a table of divorce rates  for about 200 countries in the world.  The data in this table are from the 2011 yearbook.  Many countries have not reported their 2011 data, but some have made these reports.  More reports on divorce rates around the world are reported here….

Divorce Rates in Asia– 2010


Divorce rates Asia 2010

The United Nations publishes an Annual Demographic Year Book for 2011 includes a table of divorce rates  for about 200 countries in the world.  The data in this table are from the 2011 yearbook.  Many countries have not reported their 2011 data, but some have made these reports.  More reports on divorce rates around the world are reported here….

Divorce Rates in the Middle East


divorce rates Middle east 2010

 

 

Only a few countries in the Middle East have reported their divorce rates, but this provides a sample of the patterns of divorce in these countries.

The United Nations publishes an Annual Demographic Year Book for 2011 includes a table of divorce rates  for about 200 countries in the world.  The data in this table are from the 2011 yearbook.  Many countries have not reported their 2011 data, but some have made these reports.  More reports on divorce rates around the world are reported here….

Divorce Rates for Oceania– 2007-2010


Oceania Divorce rates 20007-2010

 

 

 

 

The divorce rates in Australia, Guam, New Caledonia and New Zealand have been very stable in these for years.

The United Nations publishes an Annual Demographic Year Book for 2011 includes a table of divorce rates  for about 200 countries in the world.  The data in this table are from the 2011 yearbook.  Many countries have not reported their 2011 data, but some have made these reports.  More reports on divorce rates around the world are reported here….