Examining Trends In Divorce Rates And Statistics [2022 Data]

We take a look at the current trends in divorce rates and statistics in the US and worldwide, why people do it, and what these numbers mean for couples today.

For decades, divorce rates have been increasing throughout the U.S. and most of the world. Many researchers theorize that this is caused by increased female independence and a decrease in the necessity of marriage – and this is true. 

However, several other factors influence divorce, and the rate of divorce (at least in the U.S.) is slowly going down. 

Here are some key data points on divorce:

  • The most significant cause of divorce that men (52%) and women (53%) most closely agree on is “Not being able to talk together.”
  • More people report “lack of commitment” being a primary cause of divorce than any other factor. 
  • Divorce rates for those aged 15-44 have decreased from 1990 to 2019, while divorce rates for those aged 45+ have increased. Overall, the Baby Boomer generation trends more heavily toward divorce. 
  • Gaming managers (52.9%) and bartenders (52.7%) have a higher divorce rate than any other career. 
  • Alaska has the highest divorce rate in the country (31.9 divorces per 1,000 married women over 18), and Wyoming has the lowest (4.7 divorces per 1,000 women). 
  • 23% of women say that their spouse’s leisure activities are a primary cause of divorce, while only 12% of men do. 
  • The rate of divorce for women aged 35-44 was almost identical in 2019 (21.4 divorces per 1,000 marriages per year) to the rate in 1990 (21.3 divorces per 1,000 marriages)

Marriage and Divorce in the U.S. and the World

We can’t understand divorce without first understanding marriage, and the rates of both have shifted significantly in the past decades. 

Here’s the data on both marriage and divorce rates in the U.S. and around the world:

  • 2020 saw the lowest marriage rate for women in 50 years, with only 28.1 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women over the age of 15 that year. In the 1970s, this rate was 76.5 women per 1,000. (National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2022a)1
  • The divorce rate is slowly declining, dropping from 14.9 divorces per 1,000 married women per year in 1970 to an even rate of 14.0 divorces in 2020. (National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2022b)2
  • The following numbers show the adjusted marriage rates for women from 2008 to 2020. The rate is per 1,000 – for example, “34.8” means that for every 1,000 unmarried women aged 15 or older, 34.8 of them were married that year. (National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2022c)3
    • 2008 – 34.8 women per 1,000 unmarried women were married that year.
    • 2009 – 34.0 women per 1,000
    • 2010 – 31.9 women per 1,000
    • 2011 – 31.1 women per 1,000
    • 2012 – 31.5 women per 1,000
    • 2013 – 31.2 women per 1,000
    • 2014 – 31.9 women per 1,000
    • 2015 – 32.3 women per 1,000 
    • 2016 – 31.9 women per 1,000
    • 2017 – 32.2 women per 1,000
    • 2018 – 31.3 women per 1,000
    • 2019 – 30.5 women per 1,000
    • 2020 – 28.1 women per 1,000
  • The following numbers show the adjusted marriage rates for men from 2008 to 2020. The rates are per 1,000 unmarried men over the age of 15 per year. (National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2022c)3
    • 2008 – 40.5 men per 1,000 unmarried men were married that year. 
    • 2009 – 39.0 men per 1,000
    • 2010 – 36.0 men per 1,000
    • 2011 – 35.3 men per 1,000
    • 2012 – 35.8 men per 1,000
    • 2013 – 35.4 men per 1,000
    • 2014 – 35.9 men per 1,000
    • 2015 – 36.3 men per 1,000
    • 2016 – 35.6 men per 1,000
    • 2017 – 35.7 men per 1,000
    • 2018 – 34.7 men per 1,000
    • 2019 – 33.9 men per 1,000
    • 2020 – 30.7 men per 1,000
  • Here are the adjusted divorce rates for women from 2008 to 2020. Rates are the number of divorces per 1,000 married women over the age of 15 per year. (National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2022d)4
    • 2008 – 20.5 women per 1,000 married women were divorced that year.
    • 2009 – 19.1 women per 1,000
    • 2010 – 19.4 women per 1,000
    • 2011 – 19.4 women per 1,000
    • 2012 – 19.6 women per 1,000
    • 2013 – 18.5 women per 1,000
    • 2014 – 17.6 women per 1,000
    • 2015 – 16.9 women per 1,000
    • 2016 – 16.7 women per 1,000
    • 2017 – 16.1 women per 1,000
    • 2018 – 15.7 women per 1,000
    • 2019 – 15.5 women per 1,000
    • 2020 – 14.0 women per 1,000
  • Here are the adjusted divorce rates for men from 2008 to 2020. Rates are the number of divorces per 1,000 married men over the age of 15 per year. (Payne, NCFMR, 2022)
    • 2008 – 18.2 men per 1,000 married men were divorced that year. 
    • 2009 – 17.0 men per 1,000
    • 2010 – 17.2 men per 1,000
    • 2011 – 17.7 men per 1,000
    • 2012 – 17.6 men per 1,000
    • 2013 – 16.5 men per 1,000
    • 2014 – 15.6 men per 1,000
    • 2015 – 15.3 men per 1,000
    • 2016 – 15.1 men per 1,000
    • 2017 – 14.6 men per 1,000
    • 2018 – 14.1 men per 1,000
    • 2019 – 13.9 men per 1,000
    • 2020 – 12.6 men per 1,000
  • Nearly one million women (960,014) got divorced in 2020. (National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2022b)2
  • Worldwide divorce rates have increased from 1.01 divorces per 1,000 marriages per year in 1960 to a rate of 2.03 divorces in 2022; worldwide marriage rates have decreased from 8.06 marriages per 1,000 people per year in 1960 to 4.86 marriages in 2022. (Unified Lawyers, 2022)5
  • Since 1960, the global divorce rate has increased by 251.8%. Here’s a breakdown of the rate by year: (Unified Lawyers, 2022)5
    • 1960 – 12%
    • 1970 – 16%
    • 1980 – 26%
    • 1990 – 28%
    • 2000 – 35%
    • 2010 – 41%
    • 2017 – 44%
    • 2022 – 48%

American Divorce Rates by Age and Gender

There are significant differences in divorce rates depending on both gender and age. With age, data suggests that certain generations of Americans are more likely to divorce than others. 

Here’s a look at the numbers:

  • From 1990 to 2019, divorce rates for those aged 15-44 decreased while rates for those older than 44 increased. (National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2021a)6
  • Here are the numbers on total divorce rates and a breakdown of divorce rates by 10-year age groups. Rates are expressed as the number of divorces per 1,000 marriages per year: (National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2021a)6
    • Total:
      • 1990 – 19.0 divorces per 1,000 marriages
      • 2019 – 14.5
    • Ages 15-24:
      • 1990 – 47.2
      • 2019 – 26.0
    • Ages 25-34:
      • 1990 – 33.3
      • 2019 – 20.9
    • Ages 35-44:
      • 1990 – 22.6
      • 2019 – 20.5
    • Ages 45-54:
      • 1990 – 13.1 
      • 2019 – 17.0
    • Ages 55-64:
      • 1990 – 5.1
      • 2019 – 11.4 
    • Age 65+:
      • 1990 – 1.8
      • 2019 – 5.6
  • Divorce rates for both men and women tend to decline with age, which remains an unchanging pattern in American marital surveys. (National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2021a)6
  • Here are the divorce rates for women in 1990 and 2019, broken down by age. Rates are expressed as number of divorces per 1,000 marriages per year. (National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2021a)6
    • Ages 15-24:
      • 1990 – 46.3 divorces per 1,000 marriages
      • 2019 – 26.3
    • Ages 25-34:
      • 1990 – 31.8
      • 2019 – 21.3
    • Ages 35-44:
      • 1990 – 21.3
      • 2019 – 21.4
    • Ages 45-54:
      • 1990 – 11.2
      • 2019 – 17.5
    • Ages 55-64:
      • 1990 – 3.8
      • 2019 – 11.3
    • Age 65+:
      • 1990 – 1.4
      • 2019 – 5.8
  • Here are the divorce rates for men in 1990 and 2019, broken down by age. Rates are expressed as number of divorces per 1,000 marriages per year. (National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2021a)6
    • Ages 15-24:
      • 1990 – 48.9 divorces per 1,000 marriages
      • 2019 – 26.0
    • Ages 25-34:
      • 1990 – 35.0
      • 2019 – 20.9
    • Ages 35-44:
      • 1990 – 24.0
      • 2019 – 20.5
    • Ages 45-54:
      • 1990 – 14.9
      • 2019 – 17.0
    • Ages 55-64:
      • 1990 – 6.3
      • 2019 – 11.4
    • Age 65+:
      • 1990 – 2.1
      • 2019 – 5.6

Divorce Rates by Ethnicity

Different ethnic groups and socioeconomic classes also experience divorce at different rates. 

Here’s a breakdown of divorce rates by ethnicity:

  • Here are the rates of first divorces in women over 18, broken down by ethnicity and expressed as number of first divorces per 1,000 marriages per year. (National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2020)7
    • White/Caucasian – 13.6 first divorces per 1,000 marriages 
    • Black/African-American – 28.7 
    • Asian – 8.3
    • Native-Born Hispanic – 22.0 
    • Foreign-Born Hispanic – 13.1

Divorce Rates for First, Second, and Subsequent Marriages

Divorce rates vary depending on whether an individual is in their first, second, or subsequent marriage. Typically, the rate of divorce increases after the first marriage

Here’s a look at the data for divorce based on number of marriages:

  • The rates of first divorces for women over 18 from 2008 to 2019 are as follows. Rates are expressed as number of first divorces per 1,000 marriages per year. (National Center for Family & Marriage, 2021b)8
    • 2008 – 18.7 first divorces per 1,000 marriages
    • 2009 – 17.3
    • 2010 – 17.5
    • 2011 – 17.5 
    • 2012 – 17.6
    • 2013 – 16.3
    • 2014 – 15.7
    • 2015 – 15.0 
    • 2016 – 15.4 
    • 2017 – 15.3 
    • 2018 – 14.9
    • 2019 – 14.9
  • The rates of first divorces for women over 18 from 2008 to 2019 and broken down by ethnicity are as follows. Rates are expressed as number of first divorces per 1,000 marriages per year. (National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2021b)8
    • Caucasian/White – 13.5 first divorces per 1,000 marriages
    • Black/African-American – 26.8
    • Asian – 8.5
    • Foreign-Born Hispanic – 13.2
    • Native-Born Hispanic – 22.6
  • Here are the percentages of women whose second marriage ended in divorce. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1992)8
    • Ages 20-24: 13.1%
    • Ages 25-29: 17.8%
    • Ages 30-34: 22.7%
    • Ages 35-39: 28.5%
    • Ages 40-44: 30.6%
    • Ages 45-49: 36.4%
    • Ages 50-54: 34.5%
    • Ages 55-59: 31.1%
    • Ages 60-65: 27.1% 
  • Among all adults aged 50 and up who divorced in 2015, 48% had been in their second or higher marriage. (Pew Research, 2017)9

Divorce Rates by Country: Highest and Lowest

Whether it be cultural, quality of life, or for various other reasons, countries worldwide have wildly different divorce rates. So keep that in mind if you’re trying to get married in the Maldives – you might have better success in Ireland or Guatemala. 

Here are the statistics on divorce rates by country:

  • These are the 10 countries that had the highest divorce rates worldwide in 2002. Rates are expressed as the number of divorces per 1,000 people living in the country per year: (Guinness World Records, 2002)10
    • 1. Maldives – 10.97 divorces
    • 2. Belarus – 5.63 divorces
    • 3. United States – 4.34 divorces
    • 4. Cuba – 3.72 divorces
    • 5. Estonia – 3.65 divorces
    • 6/7. Panama and Puerto Rico – 3.61 divorces, tied
    • 8. Ukraine – 3.56 divorces
    • 9. Russia – 3.42 divorces 
    • 10. Antigua and Barbuda – 3.40 divorces. 
  • According to the most recent data collected by the U.N. across varying years from 2008 to 2021, here’s an estimate of the 13 countries with the highest annual divorce rates per 1,000 inhabitants: (World Population Review, 2022)11
    • 1. Maldives – 5.52 divorces
    • 2. Kazakhstan – 4.6 divorces
    • 3. Russia – 3.9 divorces
    • 4/5. Belarus and Belgium – 3.7 divorces, tied
    • 6. Moldova – 3.3 divorces
    • 7. China – 3.2 divorces
    • 8. Cuba – 2.9 divorces
    • 9. Ukraine – 2.88 divorces
    • 10/11/12/13. – Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, and the U.S. – 2.7 divorces, tied. 
  • Here’s another estimate of the 10 countries with the highest divorce rates in the world. Rates are expressed as number per 1,000 inhabitants per year: (Unified Lawyers, 2022)5
    • Russia – 4.7 divorces
    • Guam – 4.2 divorces
    • Moldova – 3.7 divorces
    • Belarus – 3.4 divorces
    • Latvia – 3.1 divorces
    • Ukraine – 3.1 divorces
    • Lithuania – 3 divorces
    • Kazakhstan – 3 divorces
    • Cuba – 2.9 divorces
    • Georgia – 2.7 divorces
  • Here’s an estimate of the 10 countries with the lowest divorce rates worldwide. Rates are expressed as number per 1,000 inhabitants per year: (Unified Lawyers, 2022)5
    • Martinique – 1 divorce
    • Tajikstan – 1 divorce
    • Greece – 1 divorce
    • Uzbekistan – 1 divorce
    • French Guinea – 0.8 divorces
    • Malta – 0.8 divorces
    • Ireland – 0.6 divorces
    • Peru – 0.5 divorces 
    • Qatar – 0.4 divorces
    • Guatemala – 0.4 divorces

Why Do People Get Divorced?

Since the divorce rate began skyrocketing, researchers have been studying the causes of marital failure. 

Several reports and studies have found the following results:

  • Demographic, financial resources, and marital biography are all linked to the risk of divorce in people over 50. (Journals of Gerontology, 2012)12
  • One study broke down a list of reasons for divorce by percentage of individuals, couples, and couple agreement.(Couple & Family Psychology, 2013)13
    •  Individuals refers to singles. Couples refers to at least one member of the couple agreeing that the factor is a cause of divorce. Couple agreement refers to both partners in a couple agreeing that the factor is a cause of divorce. 
      • Lack of Commitment:
        • 75.0% of individuals agree
        • 94.4% of couples agree
        • 70.6% of couples in agreement
      • Infidelity or Extramarital Affairs:
        • 59.6% of individuals agree
        • 88.8% of couples agree
        • 31.3% of couples in agreement
      • Too Much Conflict and Arguing:
        • 57.7% of individuals agree
        • 72.2% of couples agree
        • 53.8% of couples in agreement
      • Getting Married Too Young:
        • 45.1% of individuals agree
        • 61.1% of couples agree
        • 27.3% of couples in agreement
      • Financial Problems:
        • 36.7% of individuals agree
        • 55.6% of couples agree
        • 50.0% of couples in agreement
      • Substance Abuse:
        • 34.6% of individuals agree
        • 50.0% of couples agree
        • 33.3% of couples in agreement
      • Domestic Violence:
        • 23.5% of individuals agree
        • 27.8% of couples agree
        • 40% of couples in agreement
      • Health Problems:
        • 18.2% of individuals agree
        • 27.8% of couples agree
        • 25.0% of couples in agreement
      • Lack of Support From Family:
        • 17.3% of individuals agree
        • 27.8% of couples agree
        • 20.0% of couples in agreement
      • Religious Differences:
        • 13.3% of individuals agree
        • 33.3% of couples agree
        • 0.0% of couples in agreement
      • Little or No Premarital Education:
        • 13.3% of individuals agree
        • 22.2% of couples agree
        • 25.0% of couples in agreement
  • One study broke down reported contributing factors to divorce by gender: (Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 2012)[14
    • Growing Apart:
      • Total – 55%
      • Female – 52%
      • Male – 59%
    • Not Able to Talk Together:
      • Total – 53%
      • Female – 53%
      • Male – 52%
    • How My Spouse Handles Money:
      • Total – 40%
      • Female – 42%
      • Male – 38%
    • Infidelity:
      • Total – 37%
      • Female – 39%
      • Male – 34%
    • Personal Problems of My Spouse:
      • Total – 37%
      • Female – 35%
      • Male – 39%
    • Not Getting Enough Attention:
      • Total – 34%
      • Female – 33%
      • Male – 36%
    • My Spouse’s Personal Habits:
      • Total – 29%
      • Female – 29%
      • Male – 28%
    • Sexual Problems:
      • Total – 24%
      • Female – 22%
      • Male – 27%
    • Differences in Tastes and Preferences:
      • Total – 23%
      • Female – 23%
      • Male – 24%
    • Alcohol or Drug Problems:
      • Total – 22%
      • Female – 27%
      • Male – 16%
    • How We Divided Household Responsibilities:
      • Total – 21%
      • Female – 26%
      • Male 16%
    • Conflicts Over Raising Own Children:
      • Total – 20%
      • Female – 21%
      • Male – 18%
    • In-Law Problems:
      • Total – 18%
      • Female – 19%
      • Male – 17%
    • My Spouse’s Leisure Activities:
      • Total – 18%
      • Female – 23%
      • Male – 12%
    • How We Divided Childcare Responsibilities:
      • Total – 17%
      • Female – 22%
      • Male – 10%
    • Physical Violence:
      • Total – 13%
      • Female – 18%
      • Male – 6%
    • My Spouse’s Friends:
      • Total – 11%
      • Female – 10%
      • Male – 13%
    • My Spouse Worked Too Many Hours:
      • Total – 9%
      • Female – 13%
      • Male – 5%
    • Religious Differences: 
      • Total – 9%
      • Female – 9%
      • Male – 8%
  • Here’s a breakdown of contributing factors to divorce and the percentages of people who report them contributing to divorce. (Unified Lawyers, 2022)5
    • Lack of commitment – 73%
    • Excessive arguing – 56%
    • Infidelity – 55%
    • Marrying too young – 46%
    • Unrealistic expectations – 45%
    • Lack of equality in the relationship – 44%
    • Lack of preparation for marriage – 41%
    • Domestic violence or abuse – 25%

U.S. States Ranked by Divorce Rates

States in the U.S. can sometimes be as different from each other as foreign countries, and their divorce rates also vary. 

Here’s a breakdown of divorce rates by state:

  • The women’s adjusted divorce rate by state was broken down into quartiles for 2020. Rates are expressed as the number of divorces per 1,000 married women per year: (National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2022b)2
    • 4th Quartile
      • 1. Alaska – 31.9 divorces per 1,000 married women
      • 2/3/4. Arkansas, Kentucky, and Alabama – 19.7 divorces tied
      • 5. Utah – 19.3 divorces 
      • 6. Washington D.C. – 19.3 divorces
      • 7. Georgia – 18.6 divorces
      • 8. Nevada – 18.2 divorces
      • 9/10. Mississippi and Maryland – 17.9 divorces, tied
      • 11. Tennessee – 17.7 divorces
      • 12. Indiana – 17.6 divorces
      • 13. Washington – 16.5 divorces
    • 3rd Quartile
      • 14. West Virginia – 16.1 divorces
      • 15. Texas – 15.9 divorces
      • 16. Missouri – 15.8 divorces
      • 17. New Mexico – 15.7 divorces
      • 18. Oklahoma – 15.6 divorces
      • 19. New Hampshire – 15.4 divorces
      • 20. Colorado – 15.0 divorces
      • 21/22. Michigan and Rhode Island – 14.7 divorces, tied
      • 23/24. Oregon and Montana – 14.4 divorces, tied
    • 2nd Quartile:
      • 25/26/27. North Carolina, Virginia, and North Dakota – 14.3 divorces, tied
      • 28. Nebraska – 13.9 divorces
      • 29. Kansas – 13.8 divorces
      • 30. Florida – 13.6 divorces
      • 31. Louisiana – 13.2 divorces
      • 32/33. New York and Delaware – 12.9 divorces
      • 34. Arizona – 12.7 divorces
      • 35. Ohio – 12.4 divorces
      • 36. California – 12.1 divorces
      • 37. Pennsylvania – 11.6 divorces
      • 38. Iowa – 11.5 divorces
    • 1st Quartile:
      • 39. Wisconsin – 11.3 divorces
      • 40. Illinois – 11.1 divorces
      • 41/42. Massachusetts and Minnesota – 10.9 divorces, tied
      • 43. South Carolina – 10.4 divorces
      • 44. South Dakota – 10.2 divorces
      • 45/46. Connecticut and Vermont – 10.1 divorces, tied
      • 47. Idaho – 9.9 divorces
      • 48/49. New Jersey and Maine – 9.4 divorces
      • 50. Hawaii – 7.8 divorces
      • 51. Wyoming – 4.7 divorces

Does Education Level Affect Likelihood of Divorce?

As age, gender, and ethnicity all affect the likelihood of divorce, so does education. It appears to form a curve, with peak divorce rates associated with having an Associate’s degree, then declining with higher education.

Here’s a look at the data:

  • Here is the divorce rate for women over 18 based on their level of education. Rates are expressed as number of divorces per 1,000 first marriages per year. (National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2021b)15 
    • Less than high school – 15.4 divorces per 1,000 marriages per year
    • High School/GED – 15.1 divorces
    • Some College – 18.7 divorces
    • Associate’s Degree – 17.0 divorces
    • Bachelor’s Degree – 13.2 divorces
    • Master’s Degree or higher – 11.5 divorces

How Income Affects Divorce Rates

  • Increases in conflict, disagreement, and overall disharmony in a marriage can increase the likelihood of unemployed wives choosing to get jobs. (Journal of Marriage and Family, 1999)16 
  • The likelihood of divorce increases as a wife’s income increases (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2004)17
  • Chances of divorce are highest when wives contribute 40% to 50% of the income in a marriage. (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2004)15
  • One Swedish study found the following data on the correlation between a wife’s percentage of family income and divorce rates from 1981 to 1998. (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, 2004)18
    • Wife earns 0-20% of income – 6% of total divorces (4,046 divorces) come from couples with this income arrangement.
    • Wife earns 20-40% of income – 35% of total divorces (23,452)
    • Wife earns 40-60% of income – 49% of total divorces (32,931)
    • Wife earns 60-80% of income – 7% of total divorces (4,779)
    • Wife earns 80%+ of income – 3% of total divorces (2,265)

Jobs With the Highest Divorce Rates

Long hours, hard work, physical exhaustion, and financial trouble can all put a strain on a marriage. These factors are closely associated with an individual’s occupation, and certain occupations trend higher toward divorce.

This study shows some of the jobs that most heavily impact the rate of divorce:

  • Here’s a list of occupations with the highest divorce rates: (Flowing Data, 2017)19
    • 1. Gaming managers – 52.9% divorce rate
    • 2. Bartenders – 52.7%
    • 3. Flight attendants – 50.5%
    • 4. Gaming services workers – 50.3%
    • 5. Rolling machine setters, operators, and tenders (both metal and plastic) – 50.1%
    • 6. Switchboard operators – 49.7%
    • 7. Extruding & drawing machine setters, operators, and tenders (both metal and plastic – 49.6%
    • 8. Telemarketers – 49.2%
    • 9. Textile knitting and weaving machine operators – 48.9%
    • 10. Extruding, forming, pressing, and compacting machine setters, operators, and tenders – 48.8%
    • 11. Telephone operators – 47.8%
    • 12. Massage therapists – 47.8%
    • 13. Gaming cage workers – 47.3%
    • 14. Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses – 47%
    • 15. First-line supervisors of correctional officers – 46.9%
    • 16. Dancers and choreographers – 46.8%
    • 17. Dispatchers – 46.6%
    • 18. Textile winding, twisting, and drawing-out machine operators – 46.5%
    • 19. Ambulance drivers and attendants – 46.3%
    • 20. Small engine mechanics – 46.2%
    • 21. Agricultural products, graders, and sorters – 24%
    • 22. Veterinarians – 23.9%
    • 23. Biological scientists – 23.7%
    • 24. Natural science managers – 23.7%
    • 25. Speech-language pathologists – 23.2%
    • 26. Military enlisted tactical operations and air/weapons specialists and crew members – 23%
    • 27. Pharmacists – 22.6%
    • 28. Dentists – 22.5%
    • 29. Podiatrists – 22.4%
    • 30. Biomedical and agricultural engineers – 22%
    • 31. Physicians and surgeons – 21.8%
    • 32. Directors of religious activities and education – 21.3%
    • 33. Chemical engineers – 21.1%
    • 34. Optometrists – 20.8%
    • 35. Physical therapists – 20.7%
    • 36. Software developers, applications, and systems software – 20.3%
    • 37. Clergy – 19.8%
    • 38. Medical and life scientists – 19.6%
    • 39. Physical scientists – 18.9%
    • 40. Actuaries – 17%

Why Is the U.S. Divorce Rate Declining?

The divorce rate is declining – not nearly as quickly as it rose, but it is declining nonetheless. The reasons for this trend are still being studied and may simply be tied to the decline in marriage rates. 

Here’s some data on the reasons for declining divorce rates:

  • Many cohabiting partners say that finances are an important reason they aren’t yet married, potentially leading to marriage at older ages. (Pew Research, 2019)20 
  • U.S. marriage rates are historically low as people become more selective. Higher education, older average marriage age, and lower-order marriage increase marital stability and reduce the likelihood of divorce. (Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, 2019)21
  • Divorce rates are declining and will likely continue to do so, but unmarried American couples are trending toward decreased stability. (Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, 2019)18
  • One study predicts a sharp rise in cohabitation among young people, which may cancel out the decline in divorce rates.(Demography, 2014)22

Conclusion

Not every marriage was built to last, and divorce rates reflect that. The rate increased primarily because marriage is no longer necessary for financial stability or survival, and people are much freer to choose not to stay in marriages that become unstable. 

Divorce rates fluctuate by age, gender, and ethnicity, but they’re also impacted by controllable factors such as communication, career choice, division of labor, and others. 

Ultimately, divorce rates will continue to decline as fewer people marry young and more people cohabit before marriage. Couples are living together long enough to either realize a marriage won’t work – and therefore avoid it – or building enough financial stability to start marriages on a stronger foundation. 

While some studies predict the divorce rate will rise again, and others predict it will continue to decline, the important takeaway is that many of the causes for divorce are actionable and correctible issues. 


Footnotes

  1. National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2022a. A Family Profile report on the marriage rate in the U.S. using data from several sources, including the American Community Survey and U.S. Census Bureau that surveyed over 3.5 million households.
  2. National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2022b. An infographic breakdown of the U.S. divorce rate by geography utilizing U.S. Census Bureau data and other sources totaling over 3.5 million households.
  3. National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2022c. An infographic report on marriage & divorce in the U.S. using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources totaling over 3.5 million households surveyed from 2008 to 2020.
  4. National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2022d. An infographic report on the adjusted divorce rate in the U.S. using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources totaling over 3.5 million households surveyed from 2008 to 2020.
  5. Unified Lawyers, 2022. An article examining rising divorce rates throughout the world and using research from UN reports by National Statistical Offices that collect data on every country with a civil registration system (163 countries).
  6. National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2021a. A study on how divorce rates varied by age and gender from 1990 to 2019 utilizing data from the CDC, U.S. Census Bureau, and several other survey sources on over 3.5 million households.
  7. National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2020. A Family Profile report on the divorce rate in the U.S. for women over 18 and broken down by ethnicity that uses data from 3.5 million households provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources.
  8. U.S. Census Bureau, 1992. A special study on marriage and divorce conducted in 1990 using census data from over 3.5 million respondents.
  9. Pew Research, 2017. An article on divorce trends by age groups citing data from the American Community Survey and other sources.
  10. Guinness World Records, 2002. An article on nations worldwide with the highest rates of divorce per 1,000 inhabitants.
  11. World Population Review, 2022. An article on divorce rates in countries around the world that uses United Nations data from various years, depending on availability by country.
  12. The Journals of Gerontology, 2012. A study of data on 1,917,799 Americans conducted in 2012 to determine trends and causality relating to “gray divorce”
  13. Couple & Family Psychology, 2013. A study of 52 individuals in 2013 conducted to determine causes of divorce and possible preventative remedies.
  14. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 2012. A study of 886 divorced parents conducted in 2012 that aimed to pinpoint factors that contribute to the breakdown of a marriage
  15. National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 2021b. An infographic report on the rate of first divorces in women over 18 in the U.S. utilizing data from the U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, and other sources across more than 3.5 million households
  16. Journal of Marriage and Family, 1999. A study of 771 American women conducted in 1999 to examine links between income and the quality of a marriage.
  17. Journal of Marriage and Family, 2004. A study of 1,704 Americans conducted in 2004 to determine how a wife’s income affects the chances of divorce.
  18. Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, 2004. A study of 3,517,778 Swedish couples conducted in 2004 exploring the correlation between spousal income and risk of divorce.
  19. Flowing Data, 2017. An article presenting the divorce rates by occupation using data from surveys totaling 22,136,100 households in 2015.
  20. Pew Research, 2019. An article on marriage and cohabitation trends based on a 2019 survey of 9,834 Americans.
  21. Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, 2019. A research article that analyzes and predicts current and future declines in the divorce rate based on a 2019 survey of 6,878,909 married Americans.
  22. Demography, 2014. A report on divorce in the U.S. that analyzes results of three surveys of over 1.3 million Americans.
Dainis Graveris

Dainis Graveris

Over last 4 years Dainis have helped millions of people through his advice on this site (200+ guides and 1M+ visits/monthly). His work & advice has appeared on sites like: Healthline, Vice, Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, WomensHealthMag, MindBodyGreen & more. Read More

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