About Fathers

Perspectives on fathers and their children.

Divorce Calculator: Determine your risk in 10 seconds

Assessing your divorce risk: in 10 seconds or less.

We like to think we are complicated creatures, and that it would take a vast amount of study and observation to determine what the divorce risk is for those of us who are married. How could someone tell me whether I'm likely to stay married without knowing all the uncomfortable details of my previous marriage, for example, or whether I'm an empathetic husband and father?

Behavioral economists don't need to know any of that. Betsey Stevenson, one such economist, has devised a divorce calculator that can tell you precisely what your risk is with only five pieces of data that you can put into her calculator in less than 10 seconds: your gender, when you married and how old you were, your education level, and how long you've been married.

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One caution, according to Stevenson's significant other, the economist Justin Wolfers: The calculator will not tell you whether you should delay getting married, if you're thinking about it. All it does is compare you with others whose answers were the same.

Psychologists have studied the predictors of divorce, and Stevenson is far from the first to address this question. What's fascinating is how little data she requires.

Perhaps we are not as complicated as we think we are.

Journalist Paul Raeburn is the author of Do Fathers Matter? to be published by Scientific America/FSG in June, 2014. He is also the author of the Fathers and Families blog.


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