What’s the Real Divorce Rate in the United States?


When looking for divorce advice in Pasadena, it is easy to forget that you are not alone. In fact, thousands of men and women get divorced in this country every year. But exactly how many are actually divorcing and what is the real divorce rate? Robert Hughes, a professor of Human Development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign set out to answer these questions and found out that our methods of measuring divorce aren't very accurate.

Hughes says finding out the exact divorce rate in this country is difficult primarily because of the methods we use. The National Center on Health Statistics has been measuring the divorce rate since 1867 by reporting cases of divorce per 1000 members of the population. The problem with the crude divorce rate, however, is the number becomes diluted by including single adults and children. The National Center for Health Statistics' estimates the divorce rate is 3.5 but given the actual number of people included in the survey, Hughes says the actual number is most likely double that figure. "Because of the reporting problems with the crude divorce rate, the US Census Bureau began conducting the American Community Survey in order to get a better estimate of the divorce rate. Their estimate of the crude divorce rate in 2008 was 8.5 divorces per 1000 members of the US population. This number suggests that the divorce rate overall may be twice as large as the estimates by the National Center for Health Statistics."

Instead of the crude divorce rate, Hughes says the actual secret to what our country's divorce rate is lies in the number of divorces per married people over the age of 15. Yet coming up with this number is a difficult task according to Hughes. But he says the American Community Survey by the US Census Bureau is the most accurate way to uncover the real divorce rate.