All of Sam Enright's Comments + Replies

Fair enough. I have removed that part of the post. 

"Percentage of marriages that end in divorce" is an underspecified concept. There is only "percentage of marriages that end in divorce after n years". 

According to this NYT article, it is incredibly common to report (new divorces / new marriages) as the "% of marriages ending in divorce" – and this is misleading because it makes a decline in marriages look like an increase in the probability of divorce. The very large figures, like 50% or above, seem to be indeed reporting this figure. 

You could adjust for changing demographics of course, but one... (read more)

-"“Percentage of marriages that end in divorce” is an underspecified concept. There is only “percentage of marriages that end in divorce after n years”. " The concept is perfectly well specified, just take n to be e.g. 75. But of course, it can only be measured for cohorts that are at least that old. Still, I would have assumed it possible to do some extrapolation to estimate what the value will be for younger cohorts (e.g. the NYT article you linked to says "About 60 percent of all marriages that eventually end in divorce do so within the first 10 years", so it should be possible to get a reasonable estimate of the percentage of marriages that end in divorce for cohorts at least 10 years old. Anyway, the article says "The method preferred by social scientists in determining the divorce rate is to calculate how many people who have ever married subsequently divorced. Counted that way, the rate has never exceeded about 41 percent, researchers say." Obviously this method gives an underestimate of the total percentage of marriages to end in divorce. And even with that underestimate, the rate has gotten up to 41%. So I don't think the oft-quoted statistic is wildly off, even if it is based on bad methodology.