I was accused of understating the risk of divorce, to which I gave an off-the-cuff calculation that by controlling a few factors in your spousal selection you could probably lower the statistical probability of divorce to less than 10%, but I said I’d look into it more, to give a more accurate response. So, here I’m going to find a bunch of statistics concerning factors of divorce, so you can learn how to lessen your odds of divorce.
Here’s the characteristics of a woman and the odds of her ending up divorced:
Age of first sexual experience (p.10):
Number of prior sexual partners (p.18):
Time of first birth (p. 16):
Before marriage: 67%
0-7 months after: 59%
8 months after: 32%
Education (IQ correlate) (p. 16):
Some College: 51%
High School: 59%
< High School: 61%
Race/Ethnicity (p. 16):
Parents (p. 16):
Two parents: 42%
Non-intact family: 62%
Religion Raised (p. 16):
Active Evangelicals: 34%
Non-active Evangelicals: 54%
Active Mainline Protestants: 32%
Non-active Mainline Protestants:42%
Active Catholics: 23%
Non-active Catholics: 41%
No religious beliefs: 51%
All non-Christian religions:42%
Non-active other religions: 48%
Active other religions: 38%
Cohabitation (p. 18):
Did not cohabitate: 43%
Cohabitated with husband before marriage: ~55%
Effects of Wife’s share of total income on divorce risk (p. 9):
Income Quartile (p. 10):
Looking at all this, it’s easy to see the two best determinates of her divorcing you are her education and whether she has had sex prior to marriage.
A bachelor’s degree is a 40-point decrease in the odds of divorce over a high school graduate.
A women having sex with one other partner is an instant 25-point increase in the odds of divorce, with another 10-point drop for a second partner, and another for a fifth. Related to this, her having sex before age 18 is another major risk factor. Marrying her before she’s 20 is also a risk factor, but not as great a one as her having had sex with someone else; if the choice is between a virgin under 20 and older non-virgin, the young virgin is less risky. Do not marry a slut.
Religion is important, but the most important part is less what religion, but rather how devout she is. An actively religious couple is generally a 20-point decrease in the chance of divorce than a non-active couple.
Marrying an Asian is a 15-point decrease in the odds of divorce. Marrying a black was the opposite.
If she had an intact family, that’s a 20-point decrease in the risk of divorce.
If you marry a virgin bride who’s over the age of 20, has an intact family, a college degree, and is a devout Christian, the chances of divorce are very low. If she’s also Asian, they’re even lower.
Also, make sure you earn a lot more than her, don’t be poor, don’t cohabitate before marriage, and don’t knock her up until marriage.
I can’t calculate the exact numbers by calculating all these odds together because a lot of these positive qualities overlap, but I consider myself justified in estimating, that the type of women I plan on marrying would have a statistical likelihood of divorcing me around 10%.
A 10% chance of divorce, even a 20% chance, while still higher than I’d like, is a risk I am willing to take.
Note: most of these probabilities are for not being divorced at the 20-year mark, some for the 10-year mark. So, some of the numbers may be higher over a lifetime, but I would estimate not overly much; likely not more than 5 points or so.
Here’s a divorce probability calculator to look at if you’re interested. According to the calculator, here’s the score on the test the kind of woman I want to marry, -56, and for myself, -76. Both had the same explanation:
Very Low Probability
Congratulations. You’re amongst a demographic of people that have the highest long term marriage success rate. What that means is that based on the factors that you indicated, and if there are no major changes in your lifestyle and that of your spouse, the chances that you will ever get divorced are far less than average. Does that mean you don’t need Divorce Insurance because you’ll NEVER, EVER get divorced? No, it simply means that based on the 20 factors we know have a significant impact on the outcome of marriage, you scored very well. However, people change over time and life has a way of creating unexpected turns in your path so insurance against the unexpected is always a wise choice if it’s in your budget. In any event, we wish you the best of luck!
That seems to be an acceptable risk.
Also, you can get divorce insurance? Might be something to look into for those considering marriage, but worried about divorce.