What is the divorce rate in the U.S.?

People often suppose that the divorce rate in America hits about 50% across the board, which isn’t particularly accurate. While conjecture from The Americans for Divorce Reform concludes that “Probably, 40 or possibly even 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce if current trends continue”, the factors leading to these divorce rates are too unique and numerous to postulate. In fact, the divorce rate has been steadily declining since the year 2000.

Here’s a general overview of the relation between age and divorce in the U.S., according to DivorceRate.org:

Age Women Men
Under 20 27.6% 11.7%
20-24 36.6% 38.8%
25-29 16.4% 22.3%
30-34 8.5% 11.6%
35-39 5.1% 6.5%

This table displays the U.S. divorce rate from the years 2000 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Year Divorces and Annulments Population Rate per 1,000 total population
2010 I 872,000 244,122,529 3.6
2009 840,000 242,610,561 3.5
2008 844,000 240,545,163 3.5
2007 856,000 238,352,850 3.6
2006 872,000 236,094,277 3.7
2005 847,000 233,495,163 3.6
2004 II 879,000 236,402,656 3.7
2003 III 927,000 243,902,090 3.8
2002 IV 955,000 243,108,303 3.9
2001 V 940,000 236,416,762 4.0
2000 944,000 233,550,143 4.0

IExcludes data for California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, and Minnesota.

IIExcludes data for California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, and Louisiana.

IIIExcludes data for California, Hawaii, Indiana, and Oklahoma.

IVExcludes data for California, Indiana, and Oklahoma.

VExcludes data for California, Indiana, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.

In general, the chart above shows a decrease in divorce rate from 2000 through 2010, a rate that’s been falling since a national divorce peak of 5.3 divorces per 1,000 people in 1981. Some believe that part of the reason is attributed to the fact that individuals these days are college-educated with good jobs, which can lead to an overall increase in their standard of living, less tension at home, and thus a lowered probability of divorce.

Scholars, divorce lawyers and marriage-promotion experts contribute much educated opinion to the reasoning behind this decrease. Perhaps it’s the huge spike of unmarried couples who live together before marriage, or the fact that people now tend to wait five years longer before tying the knot as oppose to the 1970s. In addition, the actual marriage rate has dropped about 30% over the last 25 years, strongly impacting the yearly statistics of divorce rates.

A less technical feature of the decreased divorce rate lies in the average couple’s willingness to work things through. As martial problems were considered huge stigmas a few decades ago, couples today seem to be gaining skill and knowledge on their own volition to work their marriages out themselves.

Divorce Rates for Second Marriages and Childless Couples

According to the Enrichment Journal, the American divorce rate for those on their first marriage hits about 41%, while second marriages increase to 60% and third marriages at a whopping 73%. One can guess the psychology behind these numbers; most likely, couples may become a bit desensitized to the notion of divorce if they’ve already been through it, whereas it may still be more daunting to first-time couples.

Divorce rates are slightly higher for married couples who do not have children, says The Discovery Channel. In fact, some sociologists even draw the conclusion that childlessness is a common reason for divorce. Out of the whole divorce rate in the U.S., roughly 66% of divorcees are childless. Not having the bond of children with a spouse may lead to loneliness, weariness, and a lack of a connection. Of course, many of these assumptions are directly drawn from divorce room meetings and counseling sessions.