Statistics Don’t Tell The Whole Story

People are always searching for their identity. Check out Facebook–what comic book character are you, what soap opera character are you, and so on. Or they look at statistics to determine their character or future.

I picked this up from the original blog–slashdot. “HughPickens.com writes Randy Olson, a Computer Science grad student who works with data visualizations, writes about seven of the biggest factors that predict what makes for a long term stable marriage in America. Olson took the results of a study that polled thousands of recently married and divorced Americans and and asked them dozens of questions about their marriage (PDF): How long they were dating, how long they were engaged, etc. After running this data through a multivariate model, the authors were able to calculate the factors that best predicted whether a marriage would end in divorce.”

“What struck me about this study is that it basically laid out what makes for a stable marriage in the US,” writes Olson.

  • How long you were dating (Couples who dated 1-2 years before their engagement were 20% less likely to end up divorced than couples who dated less than a year before getting engaged. Couples who dated 3 years or more are 39% less likely to get divorced.);
  • How much money you make (The more money you and your partner make, the less likely you are to ultimately file for divorce. Couples who earn $125K per year are 51% less likely to divorce than couples making 0 — 25k);
  • How often you go to church (Couples who never go to church are 2x more likely to divorce than regular churchgoers.);
  • Your attitude toward your partner (Men are 1.5x more likely to end up divorced when they care more about their partner’s looks, and women are 1.6x more likely to end up divorced when they care more about their partner’s wealth.);
  • How many people attended the wedding (“Crazy enough, your wedding ceremony has a huge impact on the long-term stability of your marriage. Perhaps the biggest factor is how many people attend your wedding: Couples who elope are 12.5x more likely to end up divorced than couples who get married at a wedding with 200+ people.”);
  • How much you spent on the wedding (The more you spend on your wedding, the more likely you’ll end up divorced.);
  • Whether you had a honeymoon (Couples who had a honeymoon are 41% less likely to divorce than those who had no honeymoon).

Well, my wife and I are just over 50/50 on this. Our income has been adequate for most of our marriage. We have always attended church weekly (at least). As far as I know, the attitude one is not applicable. We did take a honeymoon.

However, we dated almost 2 months before we were engaged and only knew each other about 9 months when we were married–with 11 people plus us at the wedding with the wedding dinner at the local family-style restaurant.

So we had about equal odds of being married the 44 years that we have.

I bet there are many others. But for an unfortunate many, these factors played out negatively. It’s probably luck and hard work. But consider these factors as you consider marriage. But don’t just blow everything on a wedding reception and start marriage in a financial hole ;-)f

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