- According to the US Census, rates of marriage and divorce have decreased over the past twenty years.
- When analyzed independently, rates of divorce and marriage differ for women. The US Census Board asserts that this is because women often report data for themselves and disclose information more accurately.1
- Approximately 50% of Americans ages 18 and older were married in 2017. This is down by 8 percentage points since 1990.2
- “Baby Boomers” aged 60+ are divorcing at a much higher rate than any other group.
- Three states – California, Connecticut and New Jersey – have some of the nation's highest median income levels and lowest rates of marriage.
- Three states – Alabama, Kentucky, and Oklahoma – have some of the nation's lowest median income levels and highest rates of both divorce and marriage.
What is the divorce rate in America?
- In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 4 people per 1,000 got divorced. (This excludes data for California, Indiana, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.) 3
- In 2018 the CDC reported that the national divorce rate is 2.9 people per 1,000. This is a more than 50% decrease from the average in 2000. (Excludes data for California, Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota, and New Mexico.)4
- The CDC also reported that there were a 782,038 total of divorces in 2018 (45 reporting States and the District of Columbia)5
Rates of divorce on a State-by-State basis
U.S. states with the highest rates of divorce
- Nevada – 4.4 divorces per 1,000 residents
- Arkansas – 4.1
- Oklahoma / Utah / Wyoming / Idaho – 3.8
- Alaska / Alabama – 3.7
- Kentucky – 3.5
- Colorado – 3.3
- Maine – 3.2
- North Carolina / Vermont / Virginia – 3.1
- Missouri / Montana – 3.0 7
U.S. states with the lowest rates of divorce
- Illinois – 1.5 divorces per 1,000 residents
- Louisiana – 1.7
- Massachusetts – 2.1
- Iowa – 2.2
- Kansas – 2.3
- Georgia / District of Columbia – 2.5
- Texas / Maryland – 2.6
- Mississippi – 2.7
- Michigan – 2.8 8
Rates of divorce across the U.S.
The Rate of Divorce for Women
- The US Census Board reported in 2018 that 7.7 out of every 1,000 women over the age of 15 got divorced. Based on this data, the rate of divorce for women is almost 5 points higher than the national average.9
- Despite the fact that the rate of marriage is declining faster than rates of divorce, experts predict that somewhere between 40 and 50% of all marriages existing today will ultimately end in divorce.10
- Despite half of existing marriages ending in divorce, the US currently has the lowest divorce rate since the 1970s. The decline in divorce is a result of several factors including the shift toward a no-fault model of divorce.11
- In the days of fault divorce, married people used to have to prove wrongdoing on the part of one spouse, like adultery or abandonment, in order to get a judge to sign off on the dissolution. This was not always easy to do, which kept the percentage of marriages ending in divorce low.
How does the rate of divorce differ for women?
Women get divorced at a significantly higher rate when you separate the data.
States with the highest rates of divorce for women:
- Arkansas – 13.1 women divorced per 1,000
- South Dakota – 12.1
- Oklahoma – 10.8
- Kentucky – 10.5
- Oregon – 10.1
- Indiana – 9.9
- Nevada – 9.6
- Utah – 9.3
- Missouri – 9.2
- Tennessee – 9.1
The following states have the lowest divorce rates for women:
- Puerto Rico – 4.2 women divorced per 1,000
- North Dakota – 4.7
- Rhode Island – 4.9
- New York – 5.7
- Wisconsin – 6.2
- Vermont – 6.3
- Illinois – 6.6
- California – 6.7
- Michigan – 6.9
Rates of divorce for women across the U.S.
What is the rate of marriage in the U.S.?
- As of 2017, approximately 50% of adults in the U.S. were married. This is a 28% decrease from the all-time high of 72% in 1960.12
- According to the CDC, in 2018 6.5 people per 1,000 were married, with a total of 2,132,853 marriages.14
- In 2000, 8.2 people per 1,000 were married, with a total of 2,315,000 marriages.15 (Georgia and Louisiana are not included)
U.S. states with the highest rates of marriage
- Wyoming – 22.9
- Idaho – 22.6
- Alaska – 21.1
- Oklahoma – 20.3
- Arizona / Colorado – 19.5
- Missouri – 19.3
- Kansas – 18.8
- Washington / Oregon – 18.7
- Texas – 18.1
U.S. states with the lowest rates of marriage
- Puerto Rico – 6.9
- Maine – 13.2
- Connecticut – 13.2
- New Jersey – 14.3
- South Carolina – 14.5
- Pennsylvania – 14.7
- Louisiana – 14.8
- New York – 15.0
- Florida – 15.7
- California – 15.9
Rates of marriage across the U.S.
Divorce Demographics 2018 – 2013 for adults over the age of 15
- Average age: 45.5
- Bachelor’s degree of higher: 29%
- Employed: 63.3%
- Unemployed: 36.7%
- Living below the poverty line: 12.6%
- Living with children under 18: 24.1%
- Homeowner: 67.1%
- Renter: 32.9%16
How does income impact divorce?
The US states with the highest median income:
- District of Columbia – $85,203
- Maryland – $83,242
- New Jersey – $81,740 (low marriage rate)
- Hawaii – $80,212
- Massachusetts – $79,835
- Connecticut – $76,348
- California – $75,277
- New Hampshire – $74,991
- Alaska – $74,346 (high marriage & divorce rate)
- Washington – $74,07317 (high marriage rate)
The US states with the lowest median income are
- Puerto Rico – $20,296 (low marriage rate)
- West Virginia – $44,097
- Mississippi – $44,717
- Arkansas – $47,062
- New Mexico – $47,169
- Louisiana – $47,905 (low marriage & divorce rate)
- Alabama – $49,861 (high divorce rate)
- Kentucky – $50,247
- Oklahoma – $51,924 (high marriage & divorce rate)
- South Carolina – $52,30618
Median income levels across the U.S.
Income also impacts the decision to get married, which in turn has an indirect effect on the rate of divorce.
In 2018, the Census board reported that:
- 20% of 18 – 34 year old who made $40,000+ per year were unmarried.
- 40% of 18 – 34 year old who made $40,000+ per year were married.19
A significant number of couples say that income is a significant barrier to getting married.
- 47% of those with incomes below $30,000
- 21% of those with incomes of $75,000+
In what year of marriage is divorce most common?
Of the 40% to 50% of marriages that end in divorce, the average marriage makes it to about 8 years of marriage.20 That’s at the time of filing for divorce, so this data does not include how long divorce attorneys might battle it out before officially filing.
- In general, the time periods in which a couple is most likely to get divorced are in the first two years of your marriage or in years 5 through 8.21
- Marriage and divorce statistics regarding duration look a bit different between men and women. Women tend to stay in their first marriages a little longer than men, and men tend to stay in subsequent marriages a little longer than women.22
It remains to be seen whether there is any difference in these trends between same sex and opposite sex couples.
What is the most common reason for divorce?
- When divorced people are surveyed about what caused their marriage to end, 73% cite lack of commitment as a contributing factor.23
Other common reasons include
- Excessive arguing
- Marrying too young.24
What are the most common reasons for marriage?
- Love – 88%
- Commitment – 81%
- Companionship – 76%
- Desire for children – 49%
- Need to have a relationship recognized by a religious community – 30%
- Finances – 28%
- Legal right and benefits –23%25
How does age impact divorce?
Divorce is increasing in some age cohorts, such as Baby Boomers and Gen X, while decreasing for Millennials. Millennials represent the largest demographic in terms of population numbers, so the reduction in their age category has shifted the overall rate of divorce downward.
Trends in divorce rates among Baby Boomers have been dramatic. Following the era of their parents, the “Silent Generation”, Boomers who came of age in the late 70s and early 80s started to divorce at a rate not seen prior to 1970.26
Rates of divorce by age group:
- In 2013, the rate of divorce for adults ages 50 and older (Baby Boomers) averaged 10 divorces per 1,000 married couples. In 1990, the rate was 5 divorces per 1,000 according to the National Center for Health Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau.27
- Boomers now represent the age group most likely to divorce, with more than 40% of couples aged 60+ divorced as of 2010.28
- In 2013, Gen X adults ages 40 to 49 averaged 21 divorces per 1,000 married couples. In 1990, the rate for this age cohort was 18 divorces per 1,000.29
- Millennial adults ages 25 to 39 averaged 24 divorces per 1,000 married couples. In 1990, the rate for this age cohort was 30 per 1,000.
How does age impact marriage?
Millennials are the only age group to see a reduction in both divorce and marriage rates. According to a 2018 report by the Fertility and Family Statistics branch of the Census Board, in 2013:
- 26% of adults ages 18 to 32 were married in 2018 (i.e., “Millennials”)
- 36% of same-age adults were married in 1997 (i.e., this cohort is currently “Generation X”)
- 48% of same-age adults were married in 1980 (i.e., this cohort is currently the “Baby Boomers”)30
The reports posits that events such as the Great Recession of 2008, increasing home prices and the high financial burden of student loan debt that millennials incur create barriers to marriage and creating a family.31
How does age at marriage impact the likelihood of divorce?
In general, the younger one is when they get married, the more likely they are to ultimately get divorced.32 The average age of divorcing couples in America is about 30 years old, with divorcing women skewing a little bit younger than divorcing men.33
According to the most recent estimates, the average age of those getting married for the first time is 27.4 for women, and 29.5 for men.34
How does education impact divorce?
In 2015, among adults ages 25 and older:
- 65% with a four-year college degree were married
- 55% of those with some college education
- 50% among those with no education beyond high school.
Twenty-five years earlier, the marriage rate was above 60% for each of these groups.35
- Women with a 4 year college degree or higher have an 80% chance of being married for more than 20 years.36
- Women with a high school education or less have a 40% chance of being married for more than 20 years.
- In 2014, the Pew Research Center found that of adults ages 25 and older in 2014, 65% of those with a bachelor’s degree or more were married, compared with 53% of adults with less education.37
What is the divorce rate by ethnicity?
Marriage rates vary significantly across race and ethnicity. In 2015:
- 54% of white adults ages 18 and older were married.
- 60% of Asian Americans
- 46% of Hispanics
- 30% of African Americans38
While Asian (29%) and Hispanic (27%) newlyweds are most likely to intermarry in the U.S., the most dramatic increases in intermarriage have occurred among black newlyweds, 18% of whom married someone of a different race or ethnicity, up from 5% in 1980. About one-in-ten white newlyweds (11%) are married to someone of a different race or ethnicity.39
How does race impact marriage and divorce?
Ethnicity can also be a predictor of divorce. Asian Americans are the least likely to get divorced of all, with an estimated 18% of Asian American women and 16% of men experiencing at least one divorce in their lifetimes.40 Next up are those of Spanish/Hispanic/Latino descent, among whom about about 30% of women and 27% of men will experience divorce.41
Caucasian Americans fall right in the middle, with 38% of white women and 36% of white men going through divorce at least once in their lifetimes.42 Black men and women both experience at least one divorce at a rate of about 42%.43
Finally, Native Americans are at the highest statistical risk of experiencing divorce, with 44% of men and 45% of women ultimately ending one or more marriages.44
Are children of divorce more likely to experience divorce themselves?
If your parents are still married, then you have the least statistical likelihood of getting divorced yourself.45 Oddly enough, people whose parents divorced and then remarried are more likely to experience divorce than people whose parents divorced but never remarried.46
Both men and women whose parents divorced are more likely to marry other children of divorce, but this effect is amplified in women over their male counterparts.47
However, if your parents are divorced, don’t let the fear of dooming your own children to the same fate stop you from having kids -- couples who have experienced the birth of at least one child are 40% less likely to split up than their childless counterparts.48