There are four main ways scholars measure current divorce rates, and these four main measurements provide four very different numbers. Let’s start with the lesser used measures and conclude with the most popular, which leads us to the very good news. The explanation of these four is drawn from the work of Professor Paul R. Amato, who leading sociologists go to for insight on such issues.
1. The Crude Divorce Rate
This number refers to the number of divorces per 1,000 people in a population at a given time. The crude divorce rate is currently around 3.6 divorces for every 1,000 people in the US, regardless of age.
This rate is precisely what it says it is: the percentage of ever-divorced adults in a population. This, of course, is not an annual rate. Currently, about 22 percent of women and 21 percent of men have ever been divorced. Of course, some of the “ever divorced” population has remarried. Which means 11 percent of women and 9 percent of men are currently divorced—that is, they are divorced and remain single.
3. The Refined Divorce Rate
This is the number of divorces per 1,000 married women. Like the crude rate, it’s an annual rate. As Amato explains, “An advantage of the refined divorce rate is that it has a clear interpretation. That is, dividing the rate by 10 yields the percentage of marriages that end in divorce every year.” So, the refined annual divorce rate is currently 1.9 percent.
4. The Cohort Measure Rate