Instigator / Pro

It is commonly stated that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. PRO contends that the actual number is less than 10%.


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

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Three days
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Contender / Con

The divorce rate in the USA is NOT 50%. It is actually much much lower.

Round 1
The debate is thus” It is commonly stated that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. PRO contends that the actual number is less than 10%.”

PRO argues that:

  1. It is commonly stated that 50% of all marriages end in divorce.
  2. The 50% statistic is false 
  3. The actual number is less than 10%

PRO asks con upon which of these three we agree so we have a starting point.

In other words does con agree with statement A above; B above; and C above?

Also what number does con  purport to be the correct percentage ?

As to try and keep this debate balanced, I will only answer pro's question and elaborate on my reasoning in this speech.

To answer my opponent's question: I agree that it is commonly stated that 50% of marriages end in divorce. Depending on the country, this number may be more or less true. Calculating the international divorce rate presents a difficulty because of the lack of reliable data and record-keeping in many developing countries and because many countries make it incredibly difficult to attain a divorce even if a couple is divorced in all but name.

The actual percentage of marriages that end in divorce is irrelevant so long as I can prove that it is above 10%, which it very clearly is in most countries and on average internationally[1][2][3]. The only thing I must contend to win this debate is that the divorce rate is not below 10%.

Most countries with a relatively low divorce rate have several factors which should lead us to be skeptical (India, for example):
  1. Lack of accurate record-keeping.
  2. Incredibly difficult/impossible to obtain a divorce.
  3. Tax codes that favour married couples leading to couples remaining married only in-name.
  4. Social stigma.
All of these factors give us good reason to believe that a very considerable portion of marriages in countries with low divorce rates (which almost always tend to be developing countries) are marriages only in-name. We can choose to define divorce in the legal sense (a marriage is legally annulled) or in the social sense (The couple no longer lives together, lives separate lives, seeks romance with a partner(s) outside the couple, etc...).

If a couple is divorced in the social sense but not in the legal sense, it is far more useful to consider them divorced because their 'marriage' is effectively meaningless. It is far more useful and accurate to consider them divorced. This is not even to speak on how any polling or record-keeping in developing countries largely neglects much larger rural populations for a multitude of reasons.

For all of the reasons above I have mentioned, I have shown that most countries (which represent a majority of the world's population) have a divorce rate considerably exceeding 10%, and that countries with lower divorce rates (which are almost always developing countries) have several factors which makes any data on their divorce rate unreliable.

Round 2
PRO realized too late that PRO had erred in the debate configuration and that gave con a huge advantage. But what is done is done and PRO will try to debate with reason.

So in round one, con concedes that the 50% statistic is commonly stated. 

Does con also concede that the common statistic is incorrect?

122.8 million US adults are legally married (1)

Number of legally divorced persons is 29 million. (2) 

This would represent about 25% of marriages ending in divorce. 

Will con concede this figure and accept his rebuttal to dwell in the universe of 10% to 25% of marriages ending in divorce?

One reason PRO  put up this debate was due to the effect this bad statistic has on the population. Many people believe that the institution of marriage is crumbling, when it is not. Here I will use con’s source as proof  “...[The use of a badly calculated statistic ]... which may lead people to think that the community's relationships are extremely unstable, despite the number of married people not changing”  (3)

Historically the number of married couples has been on an upward trend since 1960.(4 )  Per the Census there were 40.6 million married couples in 1960 and 61.44 million in 2021.  I did not use 2022 numbers as the numbers for 2022 were reported prior to year end.

Thus it is shown that the common statement “50% of all marriages end in divorce “ is in error.

  2. ibid

To begin, I concede that the percentage of marriages which end in divorce is not 50%. However, it is not necessary for con to argue that the divorce rate is 50% in order to have met con's burden of proof.

The resolution has two halves. First: "It is commonly stated that 50% of all marriages end in divorce." This is simply a statement that is not a part of the actual contention within this debate. We are not here to argue if it is, in fact, commonly stated that 50% of marriages end in divorce. That is contextually obvious from the debate description, pro's first speech, and the second half of the resolution.

The second half of the resolution is: "PRO contends that the actual number (of marriages that end in divorce) is less than 10%." Clear as day, pro is outlining that the conflict of this debate is centred solely around if the percentage of marriages that end in divorce is less than 10%.

We can look at either the divorce rate internationally or only within the USA. The description implies that this is referring to the USA, but irrespective of which you choose, my arguments stand. My sources from the previous round (1, 2, & 3) all show that the number of countries with a divorce rate less than 10% do not constitute a majority of the world's population.

Pro's own source concedes that the divorce rate in America is 25%. This is far enough above 10% that we can rule out sampling bias or any other significant errors as being potential counter-arguments, since the chance well-respected polling services would be repeatedly wrong by a factor of 2.5 is astronomical.

You can judge the resolution in three ways:
1. The divorce rate in the USA (which my opponent concedes is above 10%)
2. The divorce rate worldwide (as my sources prove, almost every country on Earth [constituting a majority of the population] has a divorce rate exceeding 10%)
3. The median divorce rate country-by-country (as my sources prove, there are very few countries that have a divorce rate at or below 10%)
In each of these interpretations, it is clear that the divorce rate exceeds 10% by a considerable amount.

I apologize if this was not the debate pro was looking for (as they mentioned they defined it in a way that gave con a very significant advantage), but I must argue this debate in accordance with the rules and resolution that was set up.

For all the reasons I have mentioned, this resolution falls.
Round 3
It is a given that PRO likes to debate commonly held beliefs  that are factually false. PRO would hope that following such a debate viewers would no longer accept non facts as facts.

In this case PRO erred in setting up the debate.

PRO takes full responsibility for the error.

In moving ahead, it is hoped that others will look into the statistical calculations involved in many “facts”  and find reason over agenda. 

From the standpoint of this debate, PRO offers these literary sources:

 “Divorce Rate: It's Not as High as You Think” (1)


“The common statistic that 'half of marriages end in divorce' is bogus” (3)

“Professions with lowest divorce rates:l

  • Farmers – 7.63
  • Podiatrists – 6.81
  • Clergy – 5.61
  • Optometrists – 4.01
  • Agricultural Engineers – 1.78” (4)

Do these sources favor PRO’s position?  Only the  voters need to decide, but there is more to come......


I appreciate pro's handling of this debate in light of the fact that it was configured in a way that created a clash far too advantageous for con. Nonetheless, I will continue to debate the resolution as it was written in the title and defined by the description.

Does pro concede this debate is not regarding if the divorce rate is, as is commonly said, 50%? If pro does not concede this, there are several reasons to see that the resolution implies as much:
  1. Were the resolution to be regarding both if the divorce rate is 50% and if the divorce rate is below 10%, the resolution would be asking two questions, both of which are effectively the same. This would make it impossible to judge. If I could prove the divorce rate is greater than 10% and my opponent proves the divorce rate is below 50%, who wins? Nobody. A debate resolution has to have one goal-post, not two.
  2. Pro goes out of their way to specify exactly what pro is contending (The divorce rate is below 10%). Logically, con is contending the exact opposite (The divorce rate is above 10%). They did not say "Pro is contending the divorce rate is below 10% and the commonly stated belief that half of marriages end in divorce is false." They mentioned the common saying and then completely separately asserted the primary contention of this debate.

    Take the following example: If I say "It is usually hot this time of year. Today it is cold, wouldn't you agree?" It is contextually obvious that I am beginning with a fact to justify why I bothered asking the question, and then the actual question that I want to discuss follows. The question is not if you agree that it is usually hot this time of year.
  3. The debate description states: "The divorce rate in the USA is NOT 50%. It is actually much much lower." The argument is very clearly surrounding if it is, in fact, much, much lower (lower than 10%). Not if it is merely just not 50%.
  4. If the resolution were to be regarding if half of all marriages do end in divorce, the wording of the resolution is unavoidably misleading due to needless specificity. Take the example of Lead-free cereal. If you saw a box of cereal that said "Lead-free," the implication is that previous/other cereals do, in fact, contain lead. For this reason, calling your cereal 'lead-free', while true, is misleading.

    Similarly, you cannot say "The divorce rate is not 50%. It's below 10%." If you only want to have a debate on if the divorce rate is 50%. Needlessly specifying that it is, in your opinion, below 10% if that is irrelevant to the debate is, in this case, unavoidably misleading.
All of the above points serve to prove that the wording of the resolution makes it contextually obvious that the debate is regarding if and only if the divorce rate is below 10%.

I am not saying this to accuse pro of deliberately misleading me or any potential voters, but simply to say that any way to argue that this resolution is both about if the divorce rate is 50% and if it is below 10% inherently requires you argue the resolution is also hopelessly misleading. If a resolution says one thing and you attempt to argue another thing, the resolution itself is solely what dictates the debate.

Thereby, if the resolution is misleading (in the sense it says one thing and the instigator wants to debate another thing), the resolution must be judged based on what it says (if the divorce rate is below 10%) and not what the instigator wants to debate (if the divorce rate is 50% or not).

Again, not saying pro is deliberately being misleading, just saying that the resolution cannot be referring to if the divorce rate is 50% or not without the resolution simultaneously being misleading.

My previous sources and arguments already unavoidably demonstrate that the divorce rate is above 10%.
  1. The divorce rate in the USA (Number of couples married / number of couples divorced) is above 10% as my previous sources have proven.
  2. The divorce rate worldwide (same formula as previous point) is above 10% as my previous sources have proven.
  3. The median divorce rate country-by-country is above 10% (The number of countries with divorce rates below 10% does not constitute anywhere near a majority of the number of countries on Earth) as my previous sources have proven.
Pro's arguments do nothing to prove any of my evidence nor my claims to be faulty. Here's a list of all occupations with a divorce rate greater than 50%[source]:
  1. Gaming Manager - 52.9%
  2. Bartender - 52.7%
  3. Flight Attendant - 50.5%
  4. Gaming Service Workers - 50.3%
  5. Rolling Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders - 50.1%
Con's case is indisputably proven. Pro can not, in any convincing fashion, bring the debate to their side of the house.

Round 4
PRO states that the debate is in three parts, as laid out in round one.

These three parts are

  1. It is commonly stated that 50% of all marriages end in divorce.
  2. The 50% statistic is false 
  3. The actual number is less than 10%

It is clear that con is equivocating, or at least avoiding addressing all these three points in their entirety. 

Allow PRO then to assume that con has conceded points one and two, and settle on point three. This appears to be in fact con’s position in any event. 

PRO has let PRO’s “futurist view” be stated too soon. The divorce rate will hit a low below 10% in the future, but the debate was not formulated for this future. 

However the future is coming.

Further literature reviews shows thus:

“The Latest Thing Millennials Are Being Blamed for Killing? Divorce” (1)
“Divorce in America has been falling fast in recent years, and it just hit a record low in 2019. For every 1,000 marriages in the last year, only 14.9 ended in divorce, according to the newly released American Community Survey data from the Census Bureau. This is the lowest rate we have seen in 50 years. It is even slightly lower than 1970, when 15 marriages ended in divorce per 1,000 marriages.A lower divorce rate means longer marriages. According to the new Census data, the median duration of current marriages in the U.S. has increased almost one year in the recent decade, from 19 years in 2010  to 19.8 years in 2019.” (2)
“Have you heard that statistic that half of all marriages will end in divorce? It’s wrong. Even if that many marriages ever did disintegrate at one point, they don’t now. Divorce is on the decline and has been since the 1980s in America (when that 50% divorce statistic took hold).  (3)
“A report by UCLA psychologists and RAND economists has identified an effective way to reduce the number of divorces among lower-income Americans: Raise the minimum wage.” (4)
“Do Half of Marriages End in Divorce?
Contradicting the headlines about falling divorce rates, one divorce "statistic" continues to show up again and again: Half (or nearly half) of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. But there's actually no solid basis for this claim.The figure probably came from dividing the annual number of reported divorces by the number of marriages—which results in a 44% divorce rate for 2019, based on government data. But this data is incomplete. (It doesn't include any reporting from several large states.) More importantly, the marriages and divorces in one year almost never involve the same couples, and couples who got married at different times get divorced at different rates.” (5)
And there is more to come.


To reiterate the debate description:

The divorce rate in the USA is NOT 50%. It is actually much much lower.
Pro has done nothing to prove that it is 'much' lower. My points from the previous round show you why it is contextually obvious what question the debate is asking.

It is impossible to debate two questions that are simultaneously the same (if the divorce rate is 50% and if the divorce rate is below 10%) because that makes the debate impossible to judge because there's two separate sets of goal posts.

Pro made their main contention clear in the title: That the divorce rate is below 10%. Pro has unilaterally failed to prove that. Pro concedes that the divorce rate is above 10%. It's a truism that it is commonly said "50% of marriages end in divorce," but this fact has no relevance to the debate. It is merely a fact related to the central question.

After all this, what does pro have left? Nothing more than hiding behind the fact the divorce rate is below 50%. Merely proving the divorce rate is below 50% is insufficient to meet pro's burden as pro themselves outlined in the title and in the description (that the divorce rate is 'much lower' than 50%).

Pro cites a source that says the divorce rate is 44% (though they critique the accuracy of the data, it nonetheless does not bode well for their ability to prove the divorce rate is 'much lower' than 50%). Pro's intention to discuss if the divorce rate will decrease below 10% in the future is irrelevant. That is a separate debate for a separate time.

Pro concedes the divorce rate is above 10%. The debate must have one benchmark by which it will be judged, and it is contextually clear that 10% is the benchmark that this debate centres around whether or not pro flees behind the 50% benchmark because it is impossible to argue that the divorce rate is below 10%.

Moreover, my opponent's previous speech is particularly egregious in terms of the amount of content that is nothing more than direct quotations. The code of conduct has the following to say regarding plagiarism:

"If credit is given and the copy/pasted sections are properly marked, it is not plagiarism. It may however fail to be a meritable argument for lack of analysis from the debater, even while doing fantastic on the sourcing. An argument composed of more than 50% of quotes is not assured to cross this line but is in clear danger of it."
While I am not accusing my opponent of plagiarism, let it serve as the final nail in the coffin to demonstrate why pro's argument rests on indisputably shaky ground. To summarize:

  1. My point regarding needless specificity remains unrefuted. This argument cannot needlessly specify the 10% benchmark if it actually just wishes to discuss the common saying that 50% of marriages end in divorce.
  2. A debate can not have two separate sets of goal posts that are effectively the same (if the divorce rate is 50% and if the divorce rate is below 10%) because this makes it impossible to judge.
  3. My opponent concedes that the divorce rate is above 10%.
  4. My opponent has failed to prove the divorce rate is 'much lower' than 50%.
  5. Even if my arguments do not convince you, pro merely restating their own arguments without any analysis of what I said nor how their 3 main points relate to their ability to meet their burden of proof does nothing to rebuke any of my points.
  6. Even if my opponent can convince you that this debate is both regarding the 50% and 10% benchmarks, several of their arguments being mostly just quotes places the merit of those arguments on shaky ground.
  7. Even if my opponent can prove that their arguments stand up to scrutiny along with everything else, This debate can, at absolute best, be brought to a draw where I can prove the divorce rate is above 10% and pro can prove it is below 50%. A drawn debate favours con because of pro's inability to meet their inherent burden of proof.
This debate can, in its current state, ONLY be brought to a draw. There is no meaningful way for pro to bring the debate onto their side of the house. The inherent burden of proof of the positive claim means an objectively drawn debate would be a victory for con. This, combined with the fact it is impossible to view the debate as being both regarding if the divorce rate is 50% and also below 10% simultaneously without also seeing the wording of the debate as being needlessly specific and thus misleading (alongside pro's potential CoC violation removing any merit from their arguments) means con must win this debate as it currently stands.
Round 5
First off, PRO apologizes to con, to members of, and others for offering such a poorly formulated debate. 

PRO is new to this site and was trying to meet the “three debates rule”. In haste, as nobody was taking the original debate, PRO made a “late night change” that led to an erroneous topic.

Thus PRO might approach the three debate level soon, but hopefully with better topics.

Thank you all for your attention.
I once more apologize to pro if this was not the debate they were looking to have, and I hope I was nonetheless an apt debate partner.

I must continue to debate the resolution as it was written. It certainly does not make me feel particularly great to be trying to definitively prove why I have won in this scenario, but I must do so.

My arguments from the previous round prove definitively that, even in the best case scenario for pro, this debate is an objective draw. Since the positive claim has an inherent burden of proof, this means con must win. Tie votes are only reasonable in cases where pro has done slightly better than con, but due to the nature of their burden of proof, this means neither can win (tie votes are also acceptable in cases where it can be objectively demonstrated that neither side is correct). This fact is consistent with good practice on this site, actual debate guidelines for proper IRL debate tournaments, and basic logic.

More than that, I have demonstrated why this debate can't be a draw because of all the factors I have given showing that even in the best interpretation of the resolution, my opponents arguments:
  1. Have dubious merit due to being composed of mostly quotes (as per the CoC).
  2. Do not actually refute my points nor does any analysis on my position.
  3. Does not actually analyze how their 3 main positions relate to pro's ability to meet their BoP.

Even more than that, I have shown that the more likely meaning of the resolution (based on the wording of the resolution, the debate description, and context) makes this an almost-truism for con. The divorce rate is above 10% in every single meaningful, useful metric.

For all these reasons and given that pro is unable to provide any actual defence against my critiques of their position nor any reason to doubt the truth of my claims, I do not see how any reasonable voter could interpret this debate as a pro victory.