The importance of divorce statistics

If you are getting divorced or have recently divorced, you may have been confronted by the thought that you and your spouse are now “just another statistic.” This phrase is often used in popular culture to describe the frustration that individuals feel at the idea that their marriages, which they once had so much faith in, ultimately have not survived. The idea that their marriages are now among those that will be cited in statistics related to the divorce rate can be a depressing one.

It is important not to confuse the genuinely understandable frustration at having one’s marriage become “just another statistic” with frustration about the statistics themselves. Divorce statistics provide important information about the state of American unions. They help any number of researchers, lawmakers, non-profits and others understand what it means to be married and divorced in modern times.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently unveiled a plan which would eliminate certain questions from the important American Community Survey. This survey currently provides critical data related to family issues. Understanding the marriage and divorce rates as compared to the age, education, gender and other factors of the participants involved in the survey helps a great many of us grasp a greater understanding of life in America and trends related to the evolution of the modern American family.

Hopefully the Census Bureau will rethink its plan to eliminate important family issues questions from the American Community Survey. While many divorced individuals may not like that their marriages fall into a certain statistical category, it is important to continue gathering critical information that comprises related statistics.

Source: The New York Times, “Census Bureau’s Plan to Cut Marriage and Divorce Questions Has Academics Up in Arms,” Justin Wolfers, Dec. 31, 2014