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Police Officers Divorce Rates Not as High as Many Think,
According to Study by RU Professor and Graduate

RADFORD – It’s often said that law enforcement officers divorce at a higher rate than couples working in any other profession.

Not so, says Radford University Professor Emeritus Mike Aamodt and recent RU graduate Shawn McCoy in a soon-to-be published study.

“A Comparison of Law Enforcement Divorce Rates with Those of Other Occupations” is set to be published in the spring issue of Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology.

McCoy, who was one of Aamodt’s undergraduate students, is the lead author of the study that has determined that police officers do not have a higher level of divorce than those in other professions.

“There is a common belief that divorce is higher among police officers in spite of the fact that there is no empirical research supporting such a belief,” said Aamodt, a retired RU psychology professor. “To compare the divorce rate of law enforcement personnel with the rates for other occupations, we analyzed data from the 2000 U.S. Census. The results of the analysis indicate that the divorce rate for law enforcement personnel is lower than that of the general population, even after controlling for demographic and other job-related variables.”

McCoy and Aamodt’s study has received much attention in the international media over the past month. However, many of those media reports have credited Aamodt with creating a formula to predict divorce. “That is not what the study is about,” Aamodt said. “Although the differences in occupational rates of divorce are fascinating, we conducted the study as part of a series of studies investigating the many myths involving law enforcement personnel.”

Occupations with high divorce rates included dancers, bartenders, massage therapists and telemarketers, whereas occupations with low divorce rates included optometrists, agricultural engineers, clergy and podiatrists, Aamodt said.

Dec. 17, 2009
Contact: Chad Osborne (caosborne@radford.edu; 540-831-7761)

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