Should divorce be more difficult?

Should divorce be more difficult?

“The Christian right is coming for divorce next,” according to this recent Vox article, and “Some conservatives want to make it a lot harder to dissolve a marriage.”

As always when I read an article like this, I want to see data — and the General Social Survey has just the data I need. Since 1974, they have asked a representative sample of the U.S. population, “Should divorce in this country be easier or more difficult to obtain than it is now?” with the options to respond “Easier”, “More difficult”, or “Stay as is”.

Here’s how the responses have changed over time:

Since the 1990s, the percentage saying divorce should be more difficult has dropped from about 50% to about 30%. [The last data point, in 2022, may not be reliable. Due to disruptions during the COVID pandemic, the GSS changed some elements of their survey process — in the 2021 and 2022 data, responses to several questions have deviated from long-term trends in ways that might not reflect real changes in opinion.]

If we break down the results by political alignment, we can see whether these changes are driven by liberals, conservatives, or both.

Not surprisingly, conservatives are more likely than liberals to believe that divorce should be more difficult, by a margin of about 20 percentage points. But the percentages have declined in all groups — and fallen below 50% even among self-described conservatives.

As the Vox article documents, conservatives in several states have proposed legislation to make divorce more difficult. Based on the data, these proposals are likely to be unpopular.

To see my analysis, you can run this notebook on Colab. For similar analysis of other topics, see Chapter 11 of Probably Overthinking It.

Which Standard Deviation?

Which Standard Deviation?

It’s another installment in Data Q&A: Answering the real questions with Python. Previous installments are available from the Data Q&A landing page.

standard_dev
What is a percentile rank?

What is a percentile rank?

It’s another installment in Data Q&A: Answering the real questions with Python. Previous installments are available from the Data Q&A landing page.

percentile_rank
Logarithms and Heteroskedasticity

Logarithms and Heteroskedasticity

Here’s another installment in Data Q&A: Answering the real questions with Python. Previous installments are available from the Data Q&A landing page.

log_heterosked