"You often speak about divorce and crime statistics on your broadcast. Some people have told me that the rise in both is due to BETTER REPORTING. Is this true?" K. R, Ohio
To answer this question, we need to step back in history to the beginning of modern reporting methods. The place: Washington, D.C. in 1885. The 1880 U.S. Census had already taken hundreds of employees five fill years to tabulate, and still the end was not in sight! The process they used to record divorce or crime statistics was laborious handwritten tabulation. Men physically accumulated slips of paper, and then counted the number of people represented in each "stack of paper." This method was not only extremely tedious, but subject to error. The Census Bureau saw 1890 approaching, and no help in sight. In that year, 1885, Dr. Herman Hollerith of the Census Bureau struck on an idea of automating the census figures for machine counting. He invented the grandfather of modern computers and the grandfather of modern punched cards and tried the system out. With his help, the Bureau completed the 1880 Census by 1887 and prepared the new automated system for 1890. Using Dr. Hollerith's punched card system, the 1890 Census was finished in just TWO years! That's less than one-fourth the time per person required for the 1880 census. Thus the United States Census Bureau was a major pioneer in the Age of Automation — specifically in the field of STATISTICAL REPORTING. This is why nearly every Almanac chart starts in 1890 — the beginning year of thorough records. With machine tabulation in 1890 came the first really RELIABLE records. From 1890 forward, the Census Bureau has kept a VERY accurate record of all items it covers — excepting a few people who may have avoided the Census taker! Take divorce for instance. The number of divorces in 1890 is EXACT: 31,735 — not a rounded-off guess. Marriages were 530,937, an exact number — 16.73 marriages to one divorce. Today, of course, divorces are up to 534,000 per year (1967) and marriages at 1,913,000 annually. This is a 1600% growth in divorces, and only a 260% growth in marriages. Thus, it is a statistical FACT that divorces have grown SIX times faster than marriages since 1890. Today there are 3.58 marriages to one divorce. Some say this is better reporting in county and city offices. But this couldn't be farther from the truth. If anything, there is MORE divorce than is recorded! Why? Because today, millions are separating without the sanction of divorce — 3,000,000 women in the United States are presently legally married, but separated from their husbands. Also, there are the Mexican and other foreign divorces. And desertions. And the millions of cases of wife-swapping and adultery that didn't exist in 1890. There are divorces that are refused in court, or held pending. NONE of these figures appear in the modern divorce statistics! So, if you want to look at it in THAT way, "reporting" is less accurate than it was 75 years ago! It's time people quit trying to dodge behind age-old excuses for the monumental problems in America and the world over. The problems are real. If the present growth of divorce continued for another 11 years, there would be 970,000 divorces in 1980, and then 1,960,000 divorces in the year 2000 (these numbers were calculated by the IBM 360/50 Computer system at the Ambassador College Data Processing Center, Pasadena). Unless mankind is willing to CHANGE something — or unless God intervenes in human affairs — these horrid divorce statistics are sure to come true. The thing that must be changed is not reporting systems, but HUMAN NATURE. Running away from the problem by claiming statistical excuses will only bring more heartache to millions.