Wednesday, October 18, 2006


This caught my attention while reading Michael Medved's column today on

That’s one of the reasons that so many Americans so readily accept the pernicious lie of the 50% divorce rate, despite the most recent (2001) Census Bureau figures showing that 71% of first marriages last till one of the partners die (see my blog from Monday). [emphasis mine]

I'm honestly not entirely sure what to do with that, other than go look and see if I can't find some confirmation. From his blog Monday after new Census figures came out:

This interpretation of the data is ridiculous, manipulative and profoundly misleading at a time when statistics show that at least 85% of Americans will eventually marry, and that more than 60% of U.S. adults above the age of 25 are currently married. Most unmarried adults are aging widows and widowers (a rapidly increasing number) or else young people below age 25 who haven’t yet married, but expect to get hitched eventually.

So what, exactly, are the “experts” talking about when they suggest that married people are now “outnumbered?”

The New York Times announces this conclusion in the following way: “Married couples, whose numbers have been declining for decades as a proportion of American households, have finally slipped into a minority…The American Community Survey, released recently by the Census Bureau, found that 49.7%, or 55.2 million, of the nation’s 111.1 million households in 2005 were made up of married couples….”

This may sound worrisome, until you realize that this highly touted figure involves households, not individuals.

To get some sense of the difference, imagine a block on a suburban cul de sac that includes six homes. Three of them are occupied by married couples; the other three are in inhabited by an elderly widow, living alone; a struggling single mom with her kids, and a swinging bachelor with a succession of glamorous dates. In other words, there are a total of six households on “Wisteria Court” and, like the national figures, only half of them feature married couples. But of the nine adults (total) who reside on this block, two thirds are currently married.

This little example illustrates the deceptive, dishonest way that major news outlets have decided to trumpet the new figures. Counting “households” as discrete units, two people who have been married for a long time are balanced by a single person who’s never yet married. The current decline in married couples as a percentage of all households reflects demographic factors concerning the huge baby boom generation: with more boomers counting as officially “unmarried” because they’re victims of divorce, or else widows and widowers.

The rest of the blog entry is well-worth reading. And, as I said, I intend to go looking for confirmation of this from independent sources as well as by looking at the data myself. (I'll get back to you on that later today, hopefully.) This information needs to get out, and quickly, because it says a great deal about the realities in our culture versus our perceived realities - and this at least is something that ought to be very encouraging to Christians attempting to make a difference in their culture.

- Chris

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