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Do we need to know what the divorce rate is?

The U.S. Census Bureau would like to stop doing something it has done for decades. It no longer wants to have to count the number of divorces that occur every year. The questions asked regarding divorce are part of the American Community Survey and the data is used by many disparate groups for everything from research on the changing American family, to political groups arguing pro or con on many issues.

The Census Bureau apparently feels that the data is not particular valuable and can be obtain from other sources, such as the state courts that grant divorces. While that is true, to some degree, having a single source with a consistent methodology used to gather the data, ensures accuracy that may be lacking when looking at 50 distinct sources.

The number and frequencies of divorces do matter, as it can impact various services provided by government, such as Social Security. Divorce may change how and when people decide to retire and begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits.

Divorce requires the assistance of family courts and the services they provide. Determining the rate at which people divorce may influence the number of family court judgeships created.

It also highlights demographic changes, such as the increasing number of "gray divorces" among the baby boom generation, and allows for the tracking of other demographic trends.

While the abstract numbers may have more usefulness to researchers and political activists, the most important divorce rate is your own. If you need a divorce, nationwide trends really are not that important. You need to decide, weighing all the factors, the answer that is right for you and your family.

Cnn.com, "Do we really care how many Americans are getting married and divorced anymore?" January 8, 2015

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