Is Divorce Really On The Rise?

October 23, 2008

I believe there is a general assumption that the divorce rate in Pennsylvania and around the country is continually rising. It seems we are constantly bombarded with the statement that "half of all marriages end in divorce." But is that really the case? A recent examination of the marriage and divorce statistics released by the Pennsylvania Department Health indicates otherwise. The marriage and divorce statistics for Pennsylvania go back as far as 1950. Some of the more interesting statistics indicate that the number of marriages in Pennsylvania peaked in 1973 at 101,076 and has been steadily decreasing. The most recent year for which data was available was 2006, when there were 71,511 marriages in Pennsylvania. Along with the decrease in the number of marriages, there has been a similar decrease in the number of divorces, with the number of divorces peaking in 1991 at 41,321 and has been continually decreasing to 34,894 in 2006. Divorce rates seem to be declining, although not nearly as quickly. The divorce rate is calculated as the number of divorces per 1,000 people. In 1990, the divorce rate in Pennsylvania was 3.3. Then in 1995, it declined to 3.1 and has remained steady through 2004 (last year statistics were available).The good news for Pennsylvania residents is that our divorce rate is well below the national rate of 3.6.