Divorce rates in the United States have been slowly increasing since 1970 and today some estimates claim the figure has reached nearly 50%, or half of all marriages. The numbers are debatable though, because different cultural, economic and social groups all have different divorce rates. Recent studies also suggest couples with higher incomes get divorced less frequently. However you measure the rate, divorce has huge consequences for individuals, families and communities alike.
The 50% figure for the current divorce rate is probably wrong. The math that figure is based on is too simple to take multiple variables in to account. Most divorce rate figures are based on the number of marriages and divorces in a given year. The totals might be correct, but the comparison doesn’t really work because the people getting married are not the same people getting divorced in the same year. It is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, and because they are so different, the comparison doesn’t work.
Some researchers say the overall divorce rate in the United States has never really reached 50% and probably never will. The 50% figure for some age groups may be accurate for some years, but other studies have indicated that the overall divorce rate has actually been declining ever so slightly since 1980.
Part of the reason there is no hard and fast agreement on the overall divorce rate may be due to the fact that there has been no exact data to study. The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics has not collected any divorce data since 1996. Since then, most divorce statistics have been based on different data collection systems like surveys, and those methods can vary widely from state to state. Some states don’t gather divorce statistics at all and leave the task up to their internal county governments. If you are searching for statistics on the divorce rates in California, Indiana and Louisiana, you will probably have a difficult time finding any current information because those states stopped counting divorces back in the 80′s.
Higher education might be part of the reason for the recent slight dip in the overall divorce rate. Recent research has suggested that people with college educations get divorced less frequently than those without. Since 1980, the divorce rate for non-college graduates within the first 10 years of marriage has been about 35%. In contrast, college graduates married between 1990 and 1994 had a divorce rate of only 15% for the first 10 years of marriage. What most of the experts do agree on is that while the 50% divorce rate is only an estimated projection right now, unless present trends change abruptly, the number will be very close to being accurate by the end of this decade.
Divorce Rate Facts
- Since 1970 marriages have declined 30%.
- Since 1970 divorces have increased 40%.
- Women are the first to file for divorce 65% of the time.
- Over 40% of first marriages end within 13 years.
- Over 20% of first marriages end within 5 years.
- Over 75% of divorced people get remarried.
- Second marriages fail 65% of the time.
- Premarital cohabitation increased 70% in the 1990′s.
- Over 50% of premarital cohabitating couples split up within 5 years.
- Over 50% of marriages are preceded by premarital cohabitation.