It is easy to misinterpret and misunderstand facts about divorce. To begin with, much of the media that informs us is American. As a result, we often accept American facts and erroneously apply them to the Canadian situation. We do have to separate Canadian from American facts. Second, official statistics about divorce are sometimes confusing and erroneously interpreted, even by a few scientists themselves. And, third, when research information and official statistics are published, radio, TV, and newspaper people often tend to report on some selected pieces of information and consequently may inadvertently blow them out of proportion. Furthermore, media people may neither have the time nor the space to provide the necessary appreciation of the context and other important facts which are essential in the interpretation of the information they selectively provide.
UNDERSTANDING THE NUMBERS.
Is it true that one out of every two marriages breaks up"?
This business about "one out of every two marriages breaking up" comes to us straight from the U.S. where the rate has always been higher than our own. Moreover, even for Americans, the claim exaggerates the rate of divorce which stands at 44 percent.
So what percentages of marriages do break up?
Frederick and Hamel (1998) cautiously estimate that "almost one in every three Canadian couples (31%) who married in 1991 will eventually split up if the 1991 divorce rates prevail".
Are divorce rates going up or down?
Statistics Canada presents us with the following rates of divorce throughout the years:
Years # of divorces Rates per 100,000
pop. Rates per 100,000
1921 558 6.4 N/A
1941 2,462 21.4 N/A
1961 6,563 36.0 N/A
1968 11,343 54.8 N/A
1969 26,093 124.2 N/A
1981 67,671 271.8 1,174.4
1985** 61,980 253.6 1,103.3
1986 78,304 298.8 1,301.6
1987*** 96,200 362.3 1,585.5...