For the past few decades, researchers have believed that the U.S. divorce rate is on the decline. U.S. Census data seemed to show that the divorce rate reached its highest point in the mid-1970s and has been steadily declining ever since. A new study shows, however, that this long-held belief appears to be incorrect.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Population Center recently published a study in the journal Demography that suggests the divorce rate in the U.S. has been steadily increasing, not decreasing, over the past few decades. One of the most important aspects of this new study is a re-examination of the data that experts have used over the years to determine the country’s divorce rate. In the past, experts recognized that the sources they used for divorce data were flawed, but they believed that the use of new techniques of analysis ensured accuracy. The Minnesota Population Center study demonstrates, however, that this is not the case. In fact, problems with the ways in which divorce data is collected – even in data sets long recognized as accurate – have contributed to a warped understanding of divorces across the country.