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Course: MCAT > Unit 4

Lesson 1: Foundations of behavior passages

What are your chances of getting divorced?


There are often media reports on the national divorce rate in the US amounting to nearly 50% of all marriages. However, recent research shows that the overall divorce rate has been dropping slowly since reaching a peak around 1980. However, the likelihood of divorce has varied considerably among different segments of the population. In Cycle 5 of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), published in a 2002 report, racial differences in marital disruption were examined. The NSFG is nationally representative, focusing on marriage, divorce, and other factors affecting women’s health. It was based on face-to-face interviews with 10,847 women 15-44 years of age in 1995. The figure below shows the probabilities of marital disruption.
Figure 1: Probability that the first marriage is disrupted (separation or divorce) based upon duration of marriage and race/ethnicity: United States, 1995.
More recent studies found that racial variations in divorce have been gradually diminishing, in particular, the greater similarity of divorce rates between whites and blacks are largely explained by how fewer blacks are marrying. Going beyond ethnicity, other studies have assessed various background characteristics of people entering a marriage that have major implications for their risk of divorce. Also using NSFG data, the table below shows some percentage point decreases in the risk of divorce or separation during the first ten years of marriage, according to personal and social factors such as education, religion, and income.
Table 1: Factors that reduce the risk of marital disruption
Factors that reduce probability of marital disruptionRisk difference in marital disruption
Some college (vs. high school dropout)13%
Affiliated with a religion (vs. no religion)14%
Parents not divorced (vs. divorced)14%
Age >25 at marriage (vs. age <18 at marriage)24%
Having a baby >7 months after marriage (vs. having a baby before marriage)24%
Annual income >$25,000 (vs. income <$25,000)30%
*The percentages apply to the first ten years of marriage.
Data adapted from:
CDC. (2002).Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United States: Data from the National Survey of Family Growth. Vital and Health Statistics Series 23(22).
Wilcox, W.B., & Marquardt, E. (2010). Marriage Disappears: The New Middle America, Broadway Publications.
According to Figure 1, which of the following findings is correct?
Choose 1 answer: