Differing State Divorce Statistics

Aug 8, 2012 by

The American Community Survey has recently released the state by state divorce statistics based on census figures for 2008, and the numbers reveal that the divorce statistics in United States vary greatly from one region to another. While some of the differences in state divorce statistics are affected by other variables such as population density, the results of this study are at odds with many of the assumptions that are made on the family values and traditions of different parts of the country.

The information gleamed from the 2008 state divorce statistics is also somewhat clouded by the fact that these numbers do not take into account the common law marriages that brings many couples together. The 2008 state divorce statistics provide particularly informative data on the strikingly different divorce rates between the urban and rural areas of the country.

Surprisingly, the second highest divorce rate in the country is found in the state of Maine with a very high divorce rate of 13.6%. Other states in the rural northeastern region have fairly high rates of divorce, including New Hampshire (11.3%) and Vermont (12.6%). However, the northeastern states with a large urban population boasted much lower rates of divorce, such as Pennsylvania (9.2%), New Jersey (8.4%) and New York (8.2%).

This pattern of higher divorce rates in areas with a more rural population seem to be consistent throughout the country. In fact, fourteen of the sixteen states that had a divorce rate of twelve percent or higher in 2008 were located in so-called “fly over states.” The two notable exceptions to these statistics occurred in Florida (12.4%) and Nevada (14.2%), both of which have a high number of both rural and urban residents.

Conversely, the states that have a divorce rate of less than 10% are almost exclusively in areas of the country in which the population has gathered in large urban communities: Virginia (9.6%), Utah (9.4%), Maryland (9.8%),Massachusetts (9.1%) Illinois (9.5%), Hawaii (9.1%), California (9.7%), as well as Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. North Dakota is a notable exception to these findings with the lowest divorce rate in the country of only 8.1%.

It would be necessary to review a county by county breakdown of these statistics to confirm that there is a positive relationship between a low divorce rates and a high population density. In the event that this hypothesis is correct, it is still difficult to say exactly what the source of this correlation may be. While both the educational and the income level of residents is usually higher than that of rural areas, a significant percentage of the marriages in urban regions may be common law with many couples choosing to avoid marriage all together.

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