# 12.5C: Statistical Trends in Divorce

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Learning Objectives

• Name three important statistical trends in divorce in the U.S.

Divorce statistics vary across the world. On average, first marriages that end in divorce last about eight years. Of the first marriages for women from 1955 to 1959, about 79% marked their 15th anniversary, compared with only 57% for women who married for the first time from 1985 to 1989. The median time between divorce and a second marriage was about three and a half years.

## Successful Marriages

Success in marriage has been associated with higher education and higher age. 81% of college graduates, over 26 years of age, who wed in the 1980’s, were still married 20 years later. 65% of college graduates under 26, who married in the 1980’s, were still married 20 years later. 49% of high school graduates under 26 years old, who married in the 1980’s, were still married 20 years later. Population studies have found that in 2004 and 2008, liberal -voting states have lower rates of divorce than conservative-voting states, possibly because people in liberal states tend to wait longer before getting married. In 2009, 2.9% of adults 35–39 without a college degree were divorced, compared with 1.6% with a college education.

## Divorce in the United States

Divorce rates in the United States have been dropping during the last few decades. Data indicates that marriages have lasted longer in the 21st century than they did in the 1990’s. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that from 1975 to 1988, in families with children present, wives file for divorce in approximately two-thirds of cases. In 1975, 71.4% of the cases were filed by women, and in 1988, 65% were filed by women. It is estimated that upwards of 95% of divorces in the U.S. are “uncontested,” because the two parties are able to come to an agreement without a hearing about the property, children, and support issues. A 2011 study found a 1% increase in the unemployment rate correlated with a 1% decrease in the divorce rate, presumably because more people were financially challenged to afford the legal proceedings.

## Divorce around the World

One study estimated that legal reforms accounted for about 20% of the increase in divorce rates in Europe between 1960 and 2002. In Australia, nearly every third marriage ends in divorce. After reaching a peak divorce rate of 2.7 per 1,000 residents in 2001, the Australian rate declined to 2.3 per 1,000 in 2007. In Japan, divorces were on a generally upward trend from the 1960’s until 2002 when they hit a peak of 290,000. Since then, both the number of divorces and the divorce rate have declined for six years straight.

## Key Points

• Success in marriage has been associated with higher education and higher age.
• The growth of divorce rates in the United States have been dropping during the last few decades.
• One study estimated that legal reforms accounted for about 20% of the increase in divorce rates in Europe between 1960 and 2002.

## Key Terms

• Divorce Statistics: Quantitative measures of marriage and marital dissolution.

12.5C: Statistical Trends in Divorce is shared under a CC BY-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.