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A Critique of Divorce Statistics and Their Interpretation

John F. Crosby
Family Relations
Vol. 29, No. 1 (Jan., 1980), pp. 51-58
DOI: 10.2307/583716
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/583716
Page Count: 8
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A Critique of Divorce Statistics and Their Interpretation
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Abstract

Increasingly, appeals to the divorce statistic are employed to substantiate the claim that the family is in a state of breakdown and marriage is passé. This article contains a consideration of reasons why the divorce statistics are invalid and/or unreliable as indicators of the present state of marriage and family. The conclusions to which this anaylsis points are (a) divorce statistics indicate only the number or rate of marriages legally dissolved via divorce during a given period of time; (b) divorce statistics have never been valid indicants of the state of marital satisfaction or dissatisfaction; and (c) conclusions based on the present-day statistics are invalid and meaningless unless they are contrasted with a referent period of time with due attention given to their historical context and the socio-cultural milieu of the referent period.

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