Aust Census: JW's and Divorce Rates

by shepherdless 13 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • shepherdless
    shepherdless

    This post is actually in answer to a question I got from jwfacts. I think the issue was also raised on a recent thread.

    First, some data from the 2011 and 2016 censuses:


    Basically, that data shows that compared to the overall population, JW's are a little less likely to be divorced, but they are quickly catching up with the rest of the population in this regard. The data shows that they are a little more likely to be separated. The higher rate of being widowed is almost certainly because as a group they are significantly older than the population.

    The divorce rates of JW's compared to selected other religions can be summarized in the following table:


    I included Anglican to be fair. The Anglicans in Australia are predominantly old, and historically had a more relaxed attitude to divorce than other religions. JW's fare worse than all the other religions shown. Again to be fair, apart from the Anglicans, JW's are typically older than members of those other religions, and that has an effect. I have a way of cancelling that effect out, but I would probably confuse everyone with my methodology. I included numbers for Hindu and Islam, but those numbers are partially a reflection of Aust immigration rules, and so are not a fair comparison.

    The "take home message" is that divorce and separation rates for JW's are pretty typical of what you would find in "Christendom".

    De facto marriages are far fewer amongst JW's. I won't put up the charts but the numbers in brief are that:

    (a) 1,751,733 (7.5% of population) reported being in a de-facto couple on census night, but

    (b) only 1,323 (1.6% of JW's) reported being JW's in a de-facto couple.

    Interestingly, while for the general population, 95% of those in a de-facto couple spent census night in the same house as their partner, only 79% of JW's in a de-facto couple spent census night in the same house.

    For the general population, 5.7% of those de-facto couples were same sex couples. For those claiming to be JW's 3.8% of those de-facto couples were same sex couples. To put it another way, 18 males and 20 females:

    (a) wrote on their census form that they were Jehovahs Witnesses (there is no separate box to tick accidentally); and

    (b) reported that they were spending census night with someone of the same sex as a de-facto couple.


  • steve2
    steve2

    Another amazing comparison is that two non-Christian religions - Islam and Hinduism - have very low divorce rates - which is notable given that Moslem males can simply verbally announce to their wives they are divorcing them.

    The low rates of divorce in these two religions reflects not so much upon the "quality" of the marriages but cultures in which recourse to divorce is against communal mores.

    BTW shepherdless, what program do you use for your tables - I use Microsoft excel but upon posting them on this forum, the formatting changes and/or disappears.

  • shepherdless
    shepherdless

    Hi Steve,

    i use excel as well, but I use the snipping tool to create a jpg image. I only upload the jpg image.

    i will say a bit more when I get the chance.

  • steve2
    steve2

    I think I follow what you say. I'll try it. Thanks shepherdless!

  • jwfacts
    jwfacts

    Thanks Shepherdless. This confirms the trend from research I did ten years ago in other countries (Divorce Rate of Jehovah's Witnesses), that JW divorce rates are similar to the general population, and worse than certain segments of the population.

    Interesting the increase in the percentage divorced from 5.86% to 6.47% in just 5 years. That averages out to an additional divorce in almost every congregation.

  • smiddy
    smiddy

    Thanks to sheperdless and JWfacts for those graphs ,if nothing else it shows that families in the the religion of JW`s are no better off than the general population .

    Despite what the WT publications state.

    Family breakups are just as common and certainly no better than non JW`s.

    One of the reasons JW`s get divorced ,because a mate leaves the religion ,is not something that occurs in the general population .

    And is indicative of them being a cult.religion.

  • steve2
    steve2

    A relevant question is, "What percentage of divorced JWs were divorced BEFORE they became Witnesses?"

    Surely this needs to be considered - or at least acknowledged - before divorce-rates of JWs and the general population are compared - otherwise you cannot say for certain how JW divorce rates compare with non-JWs.

    Anecdotally, I can think of several witnesses in my region whose marriages had already ended - or were ending - before they started studying with the Witnesses and eventually became baptised Witnesses themselves. In such instances, you cannot attribute their divorced status to JW influences and impacts. .

  • slimboyfat
    slimboyfat

    As I understand it the data do not tell us anything directly about the propensity of JW couples to divorce, because it doesn't tell us 1) if the person divorced while a JW or 2) whether both partners were JWs. It could be that divorcees join JWs in higher proportion. And it could be that many JWs divorce non-JW partners.

    In my observation many JW marriages end when one person (usually the man) stops being a JW and the woman continues.

  • darkspilver
    darkspilver

    A relevant question is, "What percentage of divorced JWs were divorced BEFORE they became Witnesses?"

    Also..... What about those that have remarried?

    How are they counted?

    28% of Australian marriages in 2015 involved at least one partner that was on their second (or more) marriage

    http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3310.0

    28% is fairly significant statistical-wise - so I was wondering how is that accounted for in the OP stats?

    I note that apparently Question 6 in the Australian 2016 Census only asked "What is the person’s present marital status?" - with the options being either: Never married / Widowed / Divorced / Separated but not divorced / Married

    http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/2901.0Main%20Features802016/$FILE/2016%20Census%20Sample%20Household%20Form.pdf

  • shepherdless
    shepherdless

    Thanks all for comments. I will try to briefly deal with a few of them:

    Interesting the increase in the percentage divorced from 5.86% to 6.47% in just 5 years.

    It could be connected to the median age going up in those 5 years. It is surprising, though.

    A relevant question is, "What percentage of divorced JWs were divorced BEFORE they became Witnesses?"

    That is a good question. I have no easy way of separating that out. However, "divorced" means divorced and not in a new relationship on census night, which should limit such numbers. Also, you could ask the same question of any of the other religions, including SDA and Mormons who appear to be having more recruitment success.

    And it could be that many JWs divorce non-JW partners.

    Yes that would be a significant proportion. However, I think JW's divorcing non-JW's is an appropriate inclusion and I wouldn't separate them out if I could.

    Also..... What about those that have remarried?

    They are counted as "married", as pointed out by Darkspilver. Yes, the number of people who have ever divorced would be way higher. As I said above, "Divorced" means divorced and not in a new relationship on census night.

    * * *

    These good comments show the limitations of the use of the data from the census, when trying to compare divorce statistics between different religions. However, the limitations broadly apply to each of the religions listed, not just JW. If you accept the data for what it is, I think it is still valid to conclude that (to repeat myself above) divorce and separation rates for JW's are pretty typical of what you would find in "Christendom".

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