How Many Marriages End in Divorce?

Find out the statistics on on how many marriages end in divorce and why.

How many marriages end in divorce

Do Fifty Percent of Marriages Really End in Divorce?

When asked about how many marriages end in divorce, most Americans would say 50 percent. However, that’s not exactly true.

During the 1970s and 1980s that may have been true when divorce rates peaked, but over the past several years, the divorce rate has been declining and now stands at just over 40 percent according to some measurements, and not 50 percent. Sociologists attribute this to people now making better choices about who they marry.

Young people are waiting longer to get married, instead focusing on building a stronger economic foundation before they form a union. Depending on when you got married, the percentage of people getting divorced in that time frame could be even lower. For example, about 70% of people who got married in the 1990s are still married.

The problem is that determining the divorce rate can be a somewhat difficult proposition, and numbers may be skewed by the statistics that are used to come up with a reliable number.

More people are having children out of wedlock than ever before, avoiding the necessity of getting married under those circumstances which make them more likely to get divorced.

Another trend is that cohabitation rates are also going up. More people are simply living together before or instead of getting married.

Other reasons responsible for a decline in the number of people getting divorced are that fewer people are getting married overall, there is a greater acceptance of single-parent households, greater use of birth control, and people are simply waiting longer before they get married which makes them less likely to get a divorce.

What Percentage of First Marriages End in Divorce?

First Marriages End in Divorce

On the surface, this is a relatively easy question to answer. Accounting for all age groups, statistics and data over the past few years indicate that almost half of all first marriages in the United States end in divorce.

The divorce rate for subsequent marriages that end in divorce is even higher than first marriages. It’s estimated that 60% of all second marriages end in divorce , while 73% of third marriages will end in divorce. The bright spot in all of this is that overall, divorce rates in the U.S. are falling.

While you may be somewhat discouraged by those numbers, if you dig a little deeper, you will either be pleasantly surprised or less than thrilled if you fall into one or more of the higher rate categories.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is one of the government agencies that tracks marriage and divorce statistics and can offer a closer look at marriage and divorce statistics for those who are interested.

Here is a few of the CDC highlights:

In 2016, there were 2,245,404 marriages in the U.S. Out of 44 states that reported statistics to the CDC, there were 827,261 divorces. California , Georgia , Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota and New Mexico did not provide data.

  • The top five states where people decided to get married in 2016, based on rates per 1,000 total population were: Nevada (28.4 per 1,000), Hawaii (15.6 per 1,000), Arkansas (9.9 per 1,000), Utah (9.0 per 1,000) and Tennessee (8.6 per 1,000).
  • The top five states where people got divorced in 2016, based on rates of divorces per 1,000 total population were: Oklahoma (4.4 per 1,000), Nevada (4.3 per 1,000), Texas (4.2 per 1,000), Wyoming (4.2 per 1,000) and Idaho (4.0 per 1,000).

The U.S. Census also provides a variety of marriage and divorce statistics as well. A study titled “Remarriage in the United States” also offers some key insights into divorce in America as well. According to them:

  • About half of all men (50%) and women (54%) over 15 years old have married only once.
  • The proportion of adults who have married only once has decreased since 1996, from 54% to 50% of men and 60% to 54% of women.
  • In recent years, the amount of those with number of marriages higher than one increased only for women aged 50 and older and men aged 60 and older.
  • Non-Hispanic White men and women are most likely to have married three or more times, while Asian men and women are least likely.
  • Those with at least a bachelor’s degree are more likely to have married only once (64%) than all adults (52%).
  • About 21% of marriages involve both spouses marrying for at least the second time.

Here are a few other divorce statistics worth noting:

  • The U.S. has the 6th highest divorce rate in the world. Overall, Russia holds the top spot.
  • The average length of first marriages that end in divorce is about 8 years.
  • The average age of couples who get divorced for the first time is 30 years old.
  • About 75% of men who got married between 1955 and 1959 stayed married for at least 20 years. Only 58% of men who got married between 1975 and 1979 stayed married that long.
  • Only 1% of women who got married in 1920 ended up divorced or separated as compared to 15% of all women in the United States today who are either divorced or separated.
  • Wives file for divorce 66% of the time.
  • About 60% of all divorces involve people in the age group between 25 and 39 years old.
  • The most common reasons people get divorced are:
    • Infidelity
    • Money
    • Lack of communication
    • Constant arguing
    • Weight gain and health issues
    • Unrealistic expectations
    • Lack of intimacy
    • Lack of equality
    • Not being prepared for marriage
    • Physical or emotional abuse

What Professions Have the Highest Rate of Divorce?

Highest Rate of Divorce According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Five-Year American Community Survey from 2015, the occupations with the highest and lowest divorce rates are:

The 10 occupations with the highest divorce rates

  1. Gaming managers — 52.9 percent
  2. Bartenders — 52.7 percent
  3. Flight attendants — 50.5 percent
  4. Gaming services workers — 50.3 percent
  5. Rolling machine setters, operators and tenders, metal and plastic — 50.1 percent
  6. Switchboard operators — 49.7 percent
  7. Extruding and drawing machine setters, operators and tenders, metal and plastic — 49.6 percent
  8. Telemarketers — 49.2 percent
  9. Textile knitting and weaving machine operators — 48.9 percent
  10. Extruding, forming, pressing and compacting machine setters, operators and tenders — 48.8 percent

The 10 occupations with the lowest divorce rates

  1. Actuaries — 17 percent
  2. Physical scientists — 18.9 percent
  3. Medical and life scientists — 19.6 percent
  4. Clergy — 19.8 percent
  5. Software developers, applications and systems software — 20.3 percent
  6. Physical therapists — 20.7 percent
  7. Optometrists — 20.8 percent
  8. Chemical engineers — 21.1 percent
  9. Directors, religious activities and education — 21.3 percent
  10. Physicians and surgeons — 21.8 percent

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