8 Surprising Marriage and Divorce Facts

Hossein Berenji, Nov 29, 2019

Marriage and divorce are common. In the U.S., marriage can be seen as a status symbol that shows you are financially secure and have “made it.” On the opposite side of that, divorce is no longer seen as taboo. If a couple no longer wants to be together, there is less shame about deciding to separate and start new lives. The marriage and divorce landscapes are forever evolving. Here are 8 surprising marriage and divorce facts that you may not know.

1) The U.S. Divorce Rate Isn’t What You Think

Almost everyone has heard the statistic that 50% of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. However, that isn’t entirely correct. The 50% number was calculated in the 1980s and it comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC compiles yearly marriage and divorce rates. However, some states only report marriage statistics and the 50% total doesn’t accurately represent all of the U.S. If the whole country was included, the U.S. divorce rate would be closer to 40-45%.

2) The U.S. Divorce Rate is Falling

The divorce rate has been falling since the 1980s. One main reason for this is that young people are more selective in their partners and are waiting until at least their 30s to get married. This selectiveness, however, is not exactly a good sign.

Many young individuals are waiting to settle down and get married because they don’t feel financially secure until later in their lives. The divorce rates are falling but so are the numbers of people getting married.

3) Cohabitation Without Marriage is on the Rise

There is a higher incidence of couples forgoing marriage altogether and cohabiting without getting married. Again, a lot of this has to do with younger adults feeling like they are not financially secure enough to settle down until later.

That isn’t all of it, though. A Pew Research Poll found in 2010 that over 35% of people now find marriage obsolete and outdated. That number has grown since then with more and more couples preferring to live together without getting married.

4) The U.S. Divorce Rate Differs on Age

One thing that skews the divorce rate is the marriage statistics of the Baby Boomer generation. This generation was born roughly between 1945 and 1965, and they tend to get married and divorced several times in their lifetime.

That, compiled with younger people waiting to get married or forgoing it altogether, makes for statistics that disproportionately calculate marriage successes and failures.

5) Same-Sex Marriage and Divorce Are On the Rise

While the U.S. marriage rate as a whole is declining, same-sex marriages are on the rise. While some states legalized same-sex marriage earlier, it was federally legalized in 2015. Since then, the marriage rate has skyrocketed to almost 40% more of same-sex couples getting married.

On the flip side, this also increases the numbers of same-sex divorce cases. Interestingly, recent studies showed that lesbian couples were more likely than gay couples to get divorced.

6) Divorce Rate Worldwide

Globally, the divorce rate doubled between the 1970s and 2010. The lowest rates of divorce were in Eastern countries like Sri Lanka and India. Also with low divorce rates are South American, Southern European, and Caribbean countries. The exceptions to this are Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic – all three of which reported high divorce rates.

Western countries also had a high divorce rate, including the U.S. and many European and Scandinavian countries. Surprisingly, some of the highest divorce rates were in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Ukraine.

7) Predictors of Divorce

There are some predictors that indicate your marriage may not last. For example, the cost of the ring may predict divorce. Those who spent more than $20,000 on an engagement ring are over three times more likely to get divorced. The same goes for extravagant weddings: the more you spend, the more likely you are to get divorced.

Another predictor of divorce is the age gap. Those with a larger age gap are more likely to get divorced. Perhaps Hollywood marriages could take note of these statistics to develop longer and more lasting marriages.

Of course, it is important to note, many couples have these predictors and do stay happily married.

8) Predictors of a Lasting Marriage

It is easy to become discouraged with the institution of marriage with all of these divorce statistics. However, there are some predictors that can help determine if your marriage is one that is meant to last.

The seven-year itch, the statistic that couples are likely to break up around their seven-year anniversary, is a real thing. If you and your spouse make it past seven years, you are more likely to stay married.

You are also more likely to stay married if both partners are similar in education, age, and economic background. If you are really curious, there is even an online calculator that helps you predict if you will get divorced or stay married.