Divorce statistics are greatly exaggerated

It’s often said that 50% of marriages end in divorce.  A new book says that the real number is between 20% and 25%.  For churchgoers, the rate is somewhere in the single digits or teens.

The author of The Good News about Marriage, Shaunti Feldhahn, says that hopelessness–which is nurtured by the discouraging but wrong statistics about marriage–is itself a major reason for divorce.  Actually, the institution of marriage is not in as bad a shape as people assume it is. [Read more...]

Social scientists discover love

In a column on efforts to help young people in the Dominican Republic, Michael Gerson finds both from an aid worker and a social scientist that the biggest need of troubled children is love.  I’m intrigued by how the social scientist defined it. [Read more...]

Global poverty is plummeting, but no one believes it

Thirty years ago, 52% of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty.  Now only 21% do.  There is lots of other good news about economic progress in the developing world, including declines in child deaths.  But 84% of Americans are unaware of this progress, and 67% think that world-wide poverty has increased.

So says a Barna study, which expresses a concern that Western attitudes are becoming fatalistic–”nothing can be done about it”–which can stymie efforts to address the very real problems of the 21%, even though they may be quite solvable.  Or is the lesson that global economic progress is happening of itself by market forces apart from outside help, especially governmental help?

[Read more...]

Life’s happiness as a U-shaped curve

When you’re a child, you are happy, but you become less so during your teenage years.  Then you get more and more miserable.  But in your 40′s you bottom out.  Then you keep getting happier.  When you are old, you are happier than you ever have been.  Not only that, the older you get, the happier you become.

The level of happiness in your life can be graphed as a U-shaped curve.  That’s the pattern documented in a recent study.  And it seems to apply, with variations, to every culture studied.  With one exception:  Russia, in which happiness keeps going down until the age of 91, which few Russians reach. [Read more...]

The happiest & unhappiest states in the union

Gallup has compiled various statistics about “well-being” (health, work, emotional satisfaction, etc.) and has come up with a ranking of  states according to how happy they are.  The most happy states, according to this study, are North Dakota and South Dakota.  The least happy is West Virginia.  In general, the happiest states are those of the upper midwest, and the least happy are those of the deep south.

Now I grant that such studies are very limited and that happiness is not all it’s cracked up to be.  But let’s use this as an occasion to discuss regional differences.

See the top 10 and the bottom 10 after the jump, and go to the Gallup site for more details.

How would you account for the differences?  Some preliminary observations and questions:  The least happy states are poorer than normal, though the wealthiest states are not necessarily the happiest.  Is there something about rural economies, wide-open spaces, and/or natural beauty (especially mountains) that correlate to happiness?  What about the religious differences  (Lutheran strongholds vs. Baptist strongholds)?  What else?  And maybe someone who lives there can tell us what’s so great about the Dakotas. [Read more...]

Signs of being divorce-proof

Here are five bits of social science research that would indicate a person is unlikely to get a divorce.  The post completely leaves out more important factors, such as not believing in divorce and the role of Christian faith.  Still, the list of factors, while on the shallow side, is interesting and amusing.  (But please, don’t read them after the jump if you are going to beat your spouse over the head with them!) [Read more...]


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