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Divorce rates in academia

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Main Question or Discussion Point

Does anybody know of a study which looks at divorce rates for people with academic jobs?

I looked around briefly and only found an old article in which the author notes that she couldn't find any statistics on the subject.
http://www.salon.com/it/feature/1999/03/24feature.html [Broken]

I was discussing this with some friends and they hypothesized that the divorce rate for physicists with university positions in the US (postdocs and professors) was higher than the national average in the US - however they also hypothesized the inverse was true in Canada and the Netherlands.
 
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Answers and Replies

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to be honest with you, i didn't look at the article. but i have thought about this and talked to my husband about it. from the biographies of scientists (i've read a few about mathematicians and physicists mainly), most of them don't have a relationship or neglect their relationship when they get too wrapped up in their work, when their research and career becomes more important than family. this can happen with any career, though.
 
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although if you look at albert einstein and richard feynman both were divorced at a time when divorce was highly frowned upon, so if that trend holds for physicists today then I'd guess the divorce rate would be dramaticly higher.
 
Moonbear
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I'd somewhat doubt that divorce rates for physicists (or any other scientists) in academic positions would be higher than the national average. My experience in academics is that it's far more family-friendly than a lot of other professions. Keep in mind that the national average is pretty high already (something like 40 or 50% last I heard), so when you see a lot of people going through divorces, it may seem like a lot and still not be all that high compared to the general population.
 
lisab
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I'd somewhat doubt that divorce rates for physicists (or any other scientists) in academic positions would be higher than the national average. My experience in academics is that it's far more family-friendly than a lot of other professions. Keep in mind that the national average is pretty high already (something like 40 or 50% last I heard), so when you see a lot of people going through divorces, it may seem like a lot and still not be all that high compared to the general population.
I would even guess that divorce rates would be lower than the national average.

Many people I went to school with postponed getting married until they were done with school, which often wasn't until they were in their late 20s to early 30s. So they tended to be older than the average first-marriage age. Statistically, the younger a couple is when they marry, the higher the likelyhood they will divorce.
 
Moonbear
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I would even guess that divorce rates would be lower than the national average.

Many people I went to school with postponed getting married until they were done with school, which often wasn't until they were in their late 20s to early 30s. So they tended to be older than the average first-marriage age. Statistically, the younger a couple is when they marry, the higher the likelyhood they will divorce.
I had the same impression, but since I don't work with physicists, wasn't sure if it would be different than other academic departments...the social dynamics in physics departments sometimes seems more "unique" than other departments.
 
lisab
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I had the same impression, but since I don't work with physicists, wasn't sure if it would be different than other academic departments...the social dynamics in physics departments sometimes seems more "unique" than other departments.
:rofl:
 
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although if you look at albert einstein and richard feynman both were divorced at a time when divorce was highly frowned upon, so if that trend holds for physicists today then I'd guess the divorce rate would be dramaticly higher.
Hmmm, I'd have to say here that "two points do not a straight line maketh", especially since you can use this same argument to speculate that rate at which Nobel prizes are awarded should be dramatically higher today.

Based on my experience in Canada I certainly expect the divorce rate amongst physicists to be lower than the divorce rate in the general population. I would also speculate that the divorce rate amongst physicists would be lower than the divorce rate for academics in general simply because there are so few women - the male majority are more likely to be in relationships with homemakers or women with very portable professional jobs (eg teachers, nurses) - whereas other disciplines with more women might see more relationships with strain related to the woman holding a non-traditional job. (There's anecdotal evidence for this in the salon.com article.)

However, I find that the US differs from Canada in one interesting regard, which is that Americans in grad school seem to be more likely to be married than Canadians in grad school. I'm also acquaintances of two American grad students (one in astronomy and one in philosophy) who are already divorced!
 
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however nobel prizes are limited to a certain number every year unlike divorce.

I wasn't trying to pass it off as an accurate assesment as einstein and feynman weren't exactly normal, and as you pointed out 2 points from over 50 years ago don't exactly make for a good sample size.
 

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