Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Let's Look an Oft Quote Stastic

Ross Douthat, the New York Times opinion writer, is a huge fan of religion and marriage. Which is totally fine. I mean good for him. I am a (sometimes) NOT huge of religion or marriage. (Albeit I do love and admire the actions of some religious people. And I, personally, and a very happily married person.)

But for a moment let's take a look at Ross' take on marriage.

Here is a quote from Ross' column. An argument he uses often in his essays.

These figures are drawn out of a fascinating new paper, “The Socio-Political Demography of Happiness,” from the University of Chicago economist Sam Peltzman. They are amenable to various interpretations, but I want to take the crudest reading (emphasis mine),  which is suggested by a different trend covered in the Peltzman paper: the persistent happiness advantage enjoyed by married couples over the unmarried, which has slightly widened since the early 1970s and now sits at around 35 points on a scale running from -100 to 100.

For a moment, let's assume Ross' statistic is correct. The implied and sometimes stated assumption then is married people are happier because they have a life partner.

But, what if we look from a different viewpoint (let's say Scott's Angle). Perhaps with the rise of divorce, happily married people STAY married and unhappily married people divorce.

Take my parents (please! ba dump ba) - sorry. 

Anywho, take my parents and 4 other couples. And they all give the happiness rating by each couple for their marriage from 1 - 5. Let's say the numbers are something like 4, 5, 4, 4, and 1. (my parents being the 1). The average happiness of this group is 18 / 5 or "3.6".

Now, my parents get divorced. Now the happily married rating for the same group of people is now 4, 5, 4, and 4 - my parents are divorced / single and don't count. Now the average happiness of the group is 17/4 or "4.25".

See, the average happiness RISES with divorce. So instead of marriage causes more happiness. What if more happiness rises due to divorce.

and... scene

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