Monday, January 5, 2015

More on "Divorce Rates": UP or DOWN?

In my prior piece, I noted a lot more reasons for pessimism about divorce rates than expressed in the recent pieces in the New York Times.

I came across this compilation of criticisms of the work put forth by Justin Wolfers, especially noting the criticisms by demographer Steven Ruggles. This is worth a read if you are in the camp of skepticism about if the divorce rate has actually come down at all. I do not otherwise know of this blog (Dalrok) but the quotes by Ruggles are worth the price of admission.

I tend to believe the rate has come down but not as much as some suggest and that, regardless, the overall news is not optimistic about marriage--and it's worse for family stability for children. And, Ruggles has argued that the divorce rate may have, in fact, been going up not coming down at all, based on his recent publication with Sheela Kennedy.

He notes (from the blog link above):

The number of demographers who believe that overall divorce risk has declined is small. Other than Stevenson and Wolfers, we identified only Heaton (2002) and Ivers and Stevenson (2010). The consensus of most demographers, as Schoen and Canudas-Romo (2006) put it, “it is premature to believe that the probability of divorce has begun to decline.” You are entitled to argue that ACS is wrong and SIPP is right. Nevertheless, I think you should acknowledge that the decline of divorce narrative is a minority viewpoint among professional demographers.

Have at it if you are following all this.