My pastor quoted some statistics about marriage on Sunday that left me skeptical; he's going to send me a link to the source because I can't find the data online myself. Supposedly:

1. 33% of marriages end in divorce. This sounds pretty much in line with other data I've seen, although I've seen projections claiming that 50% of existing marriages will end in divorce.

2. When counting only marriages solemnized with church ceremonies the divorce rate drops to 2%. I have a hard time believing this, because I'd assume more than 67% of marriages are done in churches (but I can't find national stats on this).

3. When a couple goes to church weekly the divorce rate drops to 1 in 1200. Again, I'm very skeptical. I've seen claims that divorce rates are higher than average in "Bible belt" states, for instance.

I'll post the data once I get it, but I thought I'd post the claims right now and see what you all think. Meanwhile, here's some data on how divorce correlates with other factors, including religion. Apparently, Baptists have the highest divorce rate of any Christian denomination -- higher than atheists and agnostics. (My theory: Baptists may feel more pressure to get married in the first place, and thus enter into unwise marriages at early ages. People who marry young are particularly likely to get divorced.)

Further, here's a page with very poor layout but very interesting statistics on the effects of divorce. For instance:

Divorce and Depression

The National Institute of Mental Health found that women in cohabiting relationships had much greater rates of depression than women in married relationships (second only to those twice divorced). The numbers fall as follows (annual rate of incident of depression per 100):

Married (never divorced) 1.5
Never married 2.4
Divorced once 4.1
Divorced twice 5.8
Cohabiting 5.1

Lee Robins and Darrel Regier, Psychiatric Disorders in America: The Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study (New York: Free Press, 1991), p. 64. ...

Pre-Marital Births

The risks for teen births for unmarried women are as follows:

Study Population Two-Parents One-Parent
NLSY 11% 27%
PSID 14% 31%
HSB* 14% 19%
NSFH 20% 30%

* [Adolescent girls who became pregnant in school are less likely to finish high school. This accounts for the smaller disparity between the two family forms in a school-based survey like The High School and Beyond Study (HSB).]

McLanahan and Sandefur, 1994, p. 53.

Does divorce cause all the problems described, or is it merely a coincident effect? I don't know, but I do know that as long as a marriage remains intact there's hope for renewal and rejuvination -- once it's destroyed the damage is permanent.



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