Trends and Shifts in Divorce Rates in the United States

There has been a change in the rate and ease with which marriages end in the United States. It began in the second half of the 20th century when no-fault divorce laws entered many states’ constitutions. These no-fault divorce laws made it easy to end a marriage, and several states adopted them throughout the 60s and 70s.

Meanwhile, the change in cultural and social attitudes has created situations where people can start a family without getting married. Individuals can cohabit, combine their finances, and raise children before, or without, getting married. This change has also affected the rate of married couples staying together and reduced the number of marriages overall.

Trends in Marriage and Divorce: How Have Social Shifts Reshaped Marriage?

Marriage and divorce in the United States are different today than in earlier years. Several social, legal, and economic shifts have contributed to reshaping marriage, starting from the second half of the 20th century. First, after World War II, more women became employed, thus gaining sufficient financial security and independence without marriage.

Furthermore, young people are now choosing postsecondary educational attainment and career development over getting married. The decline in the overall rate at which marriages occur is due to these trends. As of now, only six-and-half marriages occur per one thousand people yearly, which is low compared to five decades ago.

Also, the median age of first marriage for people who choose to get married has changed. In 2018, the median age was 28.8, whereas it was only 22 in the early 1970s. Individuals who decide to get married are doing it later than they used to.

Additionally, the trends in marriage have also affected the likelihood of married couples staying together. Women are now working and obtaining for themselves outside of marriage instead of relying on husbands. For instance, women are entering the workforce, and the prominence of feminism and the sexual revolution increased divorce rates.

Today, the divorce rate is 2.9 per 1,000 people compared to 5.2 between 1960 and 1980. This divorce rate began dropping after 1980, when these shifts began to take hold.

Top 10 U.S. Cities with the Highest Divorce Rates

Undoubtedly, there is a relationship between the age of first marriage and divorce rates. This link explains the differences in divorce rates between one geographic area and another. For example, most U.S. states with low divorce rates have a higher median age for a first marriage.

Some states stand out among the others with having fewer divorced adults and the age of first marriage over thirty. These states include Massachusetts, New Jersey, California, and New York. At 25.5, Utah has the lowest median age for first marriage, which also means it has the third-lowest divorce rates.

Below are the statistics of the top ten cities with the highest divorce rates in the United States:

  1. Albuquerque, NM – 15.2 percent divorced adults, 1.4 percent separated adults, 39.8 percent married, and 38.2 percent never married.
  2. Tulsa, OK – 14.6 percent divorced, 2.5 percent separated, 42.2 percent married, and 34.7 percent never married.
  3. Tucson, AZ – 14.3 percent divorced, 2.3 percent separated, 35.7 percent married, and 42.5 percent never married.
  4. Jacksonville, FL – 14.0 percent divorced, 2.2 percent separated, 42.3 percent married, and 35.8 percent never married.
  5. Las Vegas, NV – 13.8 percent divorced, 2.0 percent separated, 43.8 percent married, and 35.3 percent never married.
  6. Miami, FL – 13.5 percent divorced, 3.5 percent separated, 36.8 percent married, and 39.8 percent never married.
  7. Cleveland, OH – 13.5 percent divorced, 3.4 percent separated, 24.7 percent married, and 52.3 percent never married.
  8. Tampa, FL – 13.5 percent divorced, 2.4 percent separated, 38.5 percent married, and 40.5 percent never married.
  9. Wichita, KS – 13.5 percent divorced, 1.9 percent separated, 45.9 percent married, and 33.4 percent never married.
  10.  Kansas City, MO – 13.3 percent divorced, 2.2 percent separated, 39.7 percent married, and 39.7 percent never married.


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