Correlations of Divorce rates with other factors (e.g. age, religion, occupation, region, race)

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NOTE: Newer information on the same topics is available on The Divorce Statistics and Studies Blog. But a lot of important, pre-2008 information is collected only on this site, the Divorce Statistics Collection. So you should check both this site and the blog.

Correlation factors:

Marriage education programs
Unrealistic Expectations
Alcoholic parents
Children of Divorce Getting Divorced

Other -- Smoking, Current Events, Gender of Children

According to the 2000 Census, 9.7 percent of those over the age of 15 in the United States listed themselves as divorced. "BOOST MARRIAGE, BOOST COMMUNITY" Cited in a posting on the Smart Marriages Listserv Sept. 29, 2004.

*Divorce law needs no tweaking
Atlanta Journal Constitution (subscription) - GA,USA
Divorce law needs no tweaking
Published on: 03/07/05
"Early marriage is a key predictor of later divorce. Nearly half of people
who marry under age 18 and 40 percent under age 20 end up divorced. It's
only 24 percent for people who marry after age 25."

Item from the Smart Marriages Archive 11/12/02, titled "More teens are getting married - 11/12/02":
Figures released last year from the National Center for Health Statistics
found nearly half of marriages in which the bride is 18 or younger end in
separation or divorce within 10 years. For brides 25 and older, half as many
marriages break up."
--From an Associated Press story printed as "More teens jumping the broom" in USA Today; "Sharp Increase in Marriages of Teenagers Found in 90's" in the NY Times; appeared in at least 30 papers the weekend of Nov. 9-10, 2002.

"NFI Releases Report on National Marriage Survey"
Article By: Vincent DiCaro, Public Affairs Manager
Fatherhood Today, Volume 10, Issue 3, Summer 2005 pgs 4-5

"National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) has released With This Ring...A National Survey on Marriage in America, a report on one of the largest and most comprehensive surveys ever conducted on Americans' attitudes towards the institution of marriage.
Norval D. Glenn, the Ashbel Smith Professor and Stiles Professor in American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, headed the research project and wrote the report. The Office of Survey Research at the University interviewed, via telephone, a representative sample of 1,503 Americans over the age of 18.
According to the findings of the survey, it appears that for both men and women there may be a "peak marriage age" in the mid-twenties. People who get married between the ages of 23-27 are much less likely to get divorced than those who marry as teens; they are also much more likely to be in high-quality marriages than people who marry in their late twenties or later.
69% of respondents said their marriages were very happy.
88% said they were completely or very satisfied with their marriages.
So, why do people get divorced? The conventional wisdom on divorce is that it only happens after both parties have tried their hardest for a long period of time to save their marriage. But the findings of this survey suggest that this may not be true, in many cases. When asked the questions, "do you wish you had worked harder to save the marriage?" and "do you wish your ex-spouse had worked harder to save the marriage?" only a third of respondents answered "no." Also, 62% of ex-wives and ex-husbands answered "yes" to the question, " do you wish your ex-spouse had worked harder to save the marriage?" These findings (along with "lack of commitment" being the number one reason given for divorce) run counter to the conventional wisdom that most divorces only happen after both spouses have done their best to save the marriage.
There is additional hope in these finding, because the most common reasons given for divorce are preventable. The top reasons given by ex-husbands and ex-wives were: (1) "lack of commitment," (2) "too much conflict and arguing," and (3) "infidelity" -- reasons that can be addressed by counseling and interventions included in various healthy marriage initiatives.
In terms of both divorce and marital happiness, marriages that were preceded by cohabitation are less successful than those that were not."...


Divorce Rates and Religion (Correlations by denomination and by participation level)
Interfaith Marriages lead to more divorce
Baptists have highest divorce rate
Mormon Temple Weddings
Scientific American on divorce & geography, religion, race

Item from the Smart Marriages Archive 3/27/02:
Scott M. Stanley writes: "If people are interested, the best single study ever done in this
area is this one:
Mahoney, A., Pargament, K.I., Jewell, T., Swank, A.B., Scott, E., Emery, E.,
& Rye, M. (1999). Marriage and the spiritual realm: The role of proximal
and distal religious constructs in marital functioning. Journal of Family
Psychology, 13 (3), 321-338.
Abstract: Ninety-seven couples completed questionnaires about their
involvement in joint religious activities and perceptions regarding the
sanctification of marriage, including perceived sacred qualities of marriage
and beliefs about the manifestation of God in marriage. In contrast to
individual religiousness and religious homogamy (distal religious
constructs), these proximal religious variables directly reflect an
integration of religion and marriage, and were consistently associated with
greater global marital adjustment, more perceived benefits from marriage,
decreased marital conflict, more verbal collaboration, and less use of
verbal aggression and stalemate to discuss disagreements for both wives and
husbands. The proximal measures also added substantial unique variance (R2
.08-.49) to specific aspects of marital functioning after controlling
demographic factors and distal religious variables in hierarchical
regression analyses.

Military Divorce Statistics
Study linking the number of psychologists and psychiatrists with divorce rates
Marriage and Divorce when wives earn more than husbands
Law enforcement: We are often asked for statistics on this topic. We don't have any, but there is a new article out on the subject: Nicole A. Roberts and Robert W. Levenson, "The Remains of the Workday: Impact of Job Stress and Exhaustion on Marital Interaction in Police Couples." Journal of Marriage and Family Vol 63 No. 4 (November 2001) p. 1052.

(see also
Divorce rates for specific U.S. states and localities )
US divorce rates and geography
Scientific American on divorce & geography, religion, race

Red states have a divorce rate 27% higher than blue states.
"For Richer or Poorer", Illustration By Sarah Wilkins, in January/February 2005 issue of Mother Jones. Quoted in a posting from Smart Marriages Listserv on Jan. 4, 2005.

Born-Again Christians No More Immune to Divorce Than Others

A 2001 Barna Research Poll indicated that 33 percent of born-again Christians end their marriages in divorce, roughly the same as the general population, and that 90 percent of those divorces happen AFTER the conversion to Christianity. (Most people become born-again during their high school years.) By John Rossomando: CNS Staff Writer January 23, 2002. Cited in a posting from Smart Marriages Listserv on Jan. 25, 2002.

Divorce Statistics for African Americans
Asian-American Families tend to stay together
Divorce in International/Interracial Marriages in Shanghai

There are no reliable statistics on interracial divorces, according to a very thorough article on interracial marriages by Victor Greto, His source for that statement is probably Anne Rambo, an associate professor of family therapy at Nova Southeastern
University in Davie, Fla. The article, "INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE: Ethnic divisions fading for couples", from the December 8, 2001 South Florida Sun-Sentinel, can be found in the Smart Marriages Archive.

"Only 18 percent of black women who married in the 1940s eventually divorced, a rate only slightly higher than that for white women of that era. But, of that far smaller number of black women who married in the late sixties and early seventies, 60 percent have already divorced."
The Abolition of Marriage, by Maggie Gallagher page 117, Dennis A. Ahlburg and Carol J. DeVita, "New Realities of the American Family," Population Bulletin 47, no.2 (August 1992): 15.

The BBC News Online reports that couples who think their relationship is perfect are just setting themselves up to be knocked down once the wedding cake is eaten and the honeymoon is over. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, we need to approach marriage with a more realistic view. And couples who do that are happier in the long run. Eighty-two couples who had been married less than three months participated in the four-year study in which each spouse was independently questioned.
Seventeen couples divorced by the end of the four years. Those who avoided divorce managed to do so by being forgiving and having charitable explanations for their partner's negative behavior, reports the BBC. But those individuals who had extremely high expectations and did not have these excellent relationship skills, were more likely to be sorely disappointed with their one true love. The study findings were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. "THE KEY TO LONG-LASTING MARITAL BLISS" Cited in a posting on the Smart Marriages Listserv Sept. 27, 2004.

Systematic Review of the Impact of Marriage and Relationship Programs
Find study here:

Study from the U.S. Dpartment of Health and Human services, talks about the effectiveness of marriage education programs. Cited in a posting on Smart Marriages Listerv Feb 2005. Anderson, [Stagner, Macomber, Murray. Systematic Review of the Impact of Marriage and Relationship Programs. Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, c_rev/sys_title.html]


"Couples who attend premarital courses tend to communicate better, solve
problems and report better relationships than those who do not, says a study
in the April 2003 issue of the journal Family Relations. The increase in
"marital strength: is about 30%, say co-authors Jason Carroll of Brigham
Young University and William Doherty of the University of Minnesota. The
couples also see themselves more as partners in a relationship.
Researchers' meta-analysis looked at 23 existing studies, many of which
assessed couples from six months to one year after marriage and used control
groups of those not attending courses. Classes, some at low cost, are
available through churches, schools, employers and health care providers."
-- From a 4/2/03 posting on the Smart Marriages Archive.

Note -- Our site does not cover the above topic comprehensively, because it is covered far better by the Smart Marriages web site.
See also John Crouch's 2002 compilation of studies on the effectiveness of marriage education in his Congressional Testimony.


Correlation between welfare and divorce rates
Recession & Divorce

People with economic disadvantages are just as likely to marry as other people, but their marriages are substantially more unstable. There is a martial quality gap between low-income and other couples but it is not as large as might be expected based on the differences in marital disruption rates. "Married and Poor: Basic Characteristics of Economically Disadvantaged Couples in the US" by David Fein. Cited in a posting on Smart Marriages Listserv Oct 8, 2004. (Smart Marriages Listserv Oct 8, 2004)


Non-US Divorce Rates:
According to the report "Profiling Canada's Families III", by The Vanier Institute of the Family, unmarried cohabiting couples are four times more likely to break up than married couples. "CANADIAN TREND INCLUDES FEWER LEGAL MARRIAGES" News Staff, NOV 29, 2004. Cited in a posting on the Smart Marriages Listserv Nov. 29, 2004.

Cohabitation Data:
There is a higher risk, 40 to 85%, of divorce between couples cohabiting before marriage than couples waiting until after marriage to share a home together. (Bumpass & Sweet 1995; Hall & Zhao 1995; Bracher, Stantow, Morgan & Russell 1993; DeMaris & Rao 1992 and Glen 1990) Cited in a posting on the Smart Marriages Listserv, Sep 28, 2004.

Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United States.
Series Report 23, Number 22. 103pp. (PHS) 98-1998.
Download report at
Among the findings in this report: unmarried cohabitations overall are less
stable than marriages.  The probability of a first marriage ending in
separation or divorce within 5 years is 20 percent, but the probability of
a premarital cohabitation breaking up within 5 years is 49 percent.  After
10 years, the probability of a first marriage ending is 33 percent,
compared with 62 percent for cohabitations.


The article ALCOHOLISM EFFECTS from Psychology Today, August 2004 issue, states that "adults who grew up with an alcoholic parent are a third more likely to end up divorced." A study was done with almost a thousand college students. The students that had parents who were heavy alcoholics saw marriage more negatively than those students whose parents were light drinkers. Cited on a posting on the Smart Marriages Listserv, Aug 11, 2004.

For an earlier, extensive treatment of this issue, see Alcoholics' kids face marital woes

Children of Divorce Getting Divorced

Children of Divorce becoming less likely to marry, divorce than in the past
Marriage and Divorce Stats for Children of Divorce
See also statistics on divorce included in abstracts that also cover Children of divorce becoming teen moms, single moms

See Paul R. Amato and Danelle D. DeBoer, "The Transmission of Marital
Instability across Generations: Relationship Skills or Commitment to
Marriage?" Journal of Marriage and Family 63 (November 2001): 1038-1051


Smokers are more prone to divorce
Study says having boys causes less divorce, more marriage and remarriage, than having girls
Effect of Oklahoma City Bombing on Divorce

Joan R. Kahn and Kathryn A. London, "Premarital Sex and the Risk of Divorce," Journal of Marriage and the Family 53 (1991): 845-855.

Cf. Ingrid Waldron, Christopher C. Weiss, and Mary Elizabeth Hughes, "marital Status Effects on Health: Are There Differences Between Never-Married Women and Divorced and Separated Women?" Social Science & Medicine 45 (1997): 1387-1397

I.M.A. Joung et al., "Health Behaviors Explain Part of the Difference in Self-Reported Health Associated with Partner/Marital States in the Netherlands," Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 49 (1995): 482-488

Peggy A. Thoits, "Gender and Marital Status Difference in Control and Distress: Common Stress versus Unique Stress Explanations," Journal of Health and Social Behavior 28 (1987): 7-22

Janet Wilmoth and Gregor Koso, "does Marital History Matter? Marital Status and Wealth Outcomes Among Preretirement Adults," Journal of Marriage and Family 64 (2002): 254-268

Karen F. Parker and Tracy Johns, "Urban Disadvantage and Types of Race-Specific Homicide: Assessing the Diversity in Family Structures in the Urban Context," Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 39 (2002): 277-303.

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Originally posted and maintained by Americans for Divorce Reform; now maintained by John Crouch. You can call me at (703) 528-6700 or e-mail me through my law office's web site.