U.S. Divorce Rate Plummets to 35-Year Low

Anthony Devlin/PA Wire URN:21012772 (Press Association via AP Images)
Anthony Devlin/PA Wire URN:21012772 (Press Association via AP Images)

The divorce rate in the United States is at its lowest level in more than 35 years, according to census data analyzed by Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Family & Marriage Research (NCFMR).

The divorce rate is down for the third consecutive year. In 2015, the rate was 16.9 divorces per 1,000 married women, down from a rate of 17.6 in 2014. Since 1980, when the divorce rate was 22.6, a decline of 25 percent is apparent in 2015.

Additionally, the data show a slight uptick in the marriage rate, which has been stable since 2010 at a 45-year low. In 2015, there were 32.3 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women while 2014’s rate was 31.9. The marriage rate has decreased by 47 percent from 1980 – when it was 61.4, but 2015’s marriage rate of 32.3 is the highest since 2009.


“The decline has stopped,” said Wendy Manning, co-director of NCFMR, reports Bloomberg.

The NCFMR summarizes:

Marriage and divorce rates have followed different patterns over the past forty-five years. In 1970, there were nearly 77 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15 and older. By 2010, this rate more than halved, and newly released data from the American Community Survey reveal that in 2015 there were just 32 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women. Although the marriage rate has plummeted since 1970, the divorce rate has remained stable. In 2015, the divorce rate was at its lowest point since 1979 at just under 17 divorces per 1,000 married women over the age of 15.

According to NCFMR, Washington, D.C. continues its pattern over the past two years to have the highest divorce rate in the nation, with some 30 marriages per 1,000 ending in divorce. Hawaii, however, continues with the country’s lowest divorce rate of only 11 marriages per 1,000 ending in divorce. In 2015, Hawaii was the only state with a divorce rate under 12.

High divorce rates (rounded to nearest whole number) are also seen in Wyoming (28 per 1,000); Nevada (26 per 1,000); Arkansas (25 per 1,000); and Alaska (23 per 1,000). NCFMR notes that Wyoming has shown the greatest increase in its divorce rate in 2015 – 88.1 percent – since 2014.

Other states with the lowest divorce rates are Wisconsin (12 per 1,000), and Rhode Island, Delaware, and New Jersey – all at approximately 13 divorces per 1,000.

Utah continues in 2015 with the highest marriage rate, with 61 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women over 15. Rhode Island also continues with the lowest marriage rate, 21 per 1,000. High marriage rates are also seen in Alaska (58), North Dakota (45), Wyoming (45), and South Dakota (43).

In addition to Rhode Island, the lowest marriage rates are all in the Northeast, with Connecticut and New Jersey at about 24 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women, and Massachusetts and New York both at about 25.