50 Percent U.S. Divorce Rate Is a Myth, Christian Researcher Says

Milton Quintanilla | CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor | Updated: Feb 20, 2024
50 Percent U.S. Divorce Rate Is a Myth, Christian Researcher Says

50 Percent U.S. Divorce Rate Is a Myth, Christian Researcher Says

Christian author and social researcher Shaunti Feldhahn has debunked the urban myth that there is a 50 percent divorce rate in the United States.

"When I started looking at the Census Bureau tables and CDC tables, and the Bureau of Vital Statistics – that's when I was like – 'wait a minute this does not match the narrative at all,'" Feldhahn told KLOVE in a recent interview.

Although she once believed the myth herself, Feldhahn ended up conducting extensive research for eight years on the subject, CBN News reports.

"The reason it took eight years is that it is insanely complicated," she noted. "There's no one right number."

“Why? Because it kind of depends: like, is the rate of divorce the percentage of people who will get divorced in the future? Or is it the people who already are?"

In light of the research, Feldhahn compiled them altogether in her book The Good News About Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths about Marriage and Divorce.

"Seventy-one percent of people are still married to their first spouse," she explained, which leaves 29 percent, but "that's not the true story either. Because that includes everybody who was married for 50 years and their spouse died."

Regarding the death of a spouse, Feldhahn contended that the actual divorce rate is not greater than 25 percent.

"At one time, a 50 percent divorce rate in the future was actually a reasonable projection," she said. “No-fault divorce entered the U.S. courts in 1972, which led to an explosion of divorces. Demographers of the day got really concerned and said, 'Oh my goodness if this trend keeps up, we're going to hit a 50 percent divorce rate someday.'"

"But just a few short years later, in 1980, the divorce rate began to trend down," Feldman explained. "We never got close to hitting the 50 percent projection…and that is what has not been corrected in the public opinion."

According to statistics compiled by Forbes, more people get married in the span of each year than get divorced.

In 2021, a total of 689,308 marriages across 45 U.S. states ended in divorce. In that same year, 1,985,072 couples got married, making the nation’s marriage rate 6 per 1,000 people.

Feldhan also noted that the ages of couples getting married is one factor in the divorce rate.

"People are getting married at slightly older ages – and when you get married very young, those people have a higher divorce rate risk," she told KLOVE.

For instance, couples who marry after 25 are 50 percent least likely to get divorced than those who get married at 20.

Feldhahn also debunked the myth that there is a high divorce rate among those who remarried after a divorce or death of a spouse.

"My senior researcher, Tally Whitehead, and I spent three years trying to find the studies underneath that number," she explained. "We were very thorough – we went through all the different citations and news reports and websites – and they all trace back to three sources that don't exist."

In Feldhahn’s book, she shared that the divorce rate among active in their church is 27 to 50 percent less that non-church goers. In a December 2022 interview, she told CBN News she hopes people would be aware of the truth about marriage and share it.

"We need to change the paradigm of how we talk about marriage – from marriage being in trouble and all this discouraging stuff to saying, 'No, wait. Most marriages are strong and happy for a lifetime,'" she told CBN News. "That makes a total difference to a couple who can now say, 'You know what? Most people get through this and we can, too.'"

Image credit: © Getty Images/mofles


Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for CrosswalkHeadlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.

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50 Percent U.S. Divorce Rate Is a Myth, Christian Researcher Says