Dr. Randy Olson recently released data (reported in the Washington Post) examining the rise and fall of marriages and divorces over the last 144 years. Using data from the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Dr. Olson compares the number of marriages and divorces per 1,000 people year by year. By analyzing these data–instead of the total number of marriages and divorces –Dr. Olson was able accurately to compare the rate of marriages and divorces over the past 144 years despite fluctuations in the population numbers.

The results of the data are disheartening, but expected.  It shows that the number of marriages in the United States has fallen consistently since the 1980s. What is more, the number of marriages has dropped to 6.8 per 1000 people, the lowest it has been since 1867, even lower than during the Great Depression.

Despite the fact that fewer people are getting married, intact marriages are as important now as they have ever been. To learn more about the importance of marriage for individuals, the economy, and society as a whole, visit the Marriage and Religion Research website: http://marri.us/home