Divorce Statistics Republicans vs. Democrats

Bride and groom

Both sides of the aisle may be surprised to learn statistics behind the family-values oriented Republican party. According to a 2014 report in the American Journal of Sociology, "red" states (states that tend to vote Republican), have higher divorce rates than "blue" states (states that tend to vote Democratic). The article attributes this difference to earlier marriage and family formation, lower education levels, and lower incomes that are often seen in red states.

Divorce Statistics by State

By comparing the 2015 numbers in a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that lists divorce rates by state, with NPR's list that shows how states voted, it becomes evident that the states with the top five highest divorce rates were mostly Republican, while the states with the lowest number of divorces were almost evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.

States With Highest Divorce Rates

State Divorce Rate (per 1,000 residents) 2016 Voting Record
Alaska 4.1 Republican
Arkansas 4.8 Republican
Nevada 4.6 Democrat
Oklahoma 4.4 Republican
Wyoming 4.1 Republican

States With Lowest Divorce Rates

State Divorce Rate (per 1,000 residents) 2016 Voting Record
Iowa 1.2 Republican
Illinois 2.2 Democrat
Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin 2.6 Republican
Maryland and Massachusetts 2.6 Democrat
New York 2.7 Democrat

Statistical Interpretations

Although there seems to be a correlation between divorce rates and a state's majority party affiliation, it is difficult to pinpoint a specific reason for this relationship. In fact, there are many factors that contribute to this association. Possible factors include:

Age of Marriage

Table MS-2 in a report from the United States Census Bureau states in 2016, the estimated median age for first marriages was 29.5 for men and 27.4 for women. These ages have gradually increased over the past several decades overall.

The Population Reference Bureau provides a listing of the average age of women at the time of their first marriage between 2010 and 2014. The seven states where statistics indicate people marry the youngest are:

State Average Age
Utah 23.8
Idaho 24.7
Arkansas 25.1
Oklahoma 25.2
Wyoming 25.2
Alaska 25.2
Kentucky 25.7

Of these seven, four are also Republican states with the highest rates of divorce in the U.S.

The seven states with women with the oldest median ages at the time of marriage are:

State Average Age
Washington, D.C. 30.0
Massachusetts 29.3
New York 29.1
Rhode Island 29.0
Connecticut 28.7
New Jersey 28.6
Maryland 28.1

Of these seven, three are Democratic states with low divorce rates.

Marriage Rate in the State

Marriage rates per 1,000 people in 2015 for states with high divorce rates as reported by the CDC:

State Rate per 1,000 people
Alaska (R) 7.4
Arkansas (R) 10
Nevada (D) 31
Oklahoma (R) 7.4
Wyoming (R) 7.3

Marriage rates in states with low divorce rates:

State Rate per 1,000 people
Iowa (R) 6.3
Illinois (D) 5.9
Pennsylvania (R) 5.7
South Dakota (R) 7.2
Texas (R) 7.5
Wisconsin (R) 5.6
Maryland (D) 6.2
Massachusetts (D) 5.5
New York (D) 7.1

Statistically, there are fewer marriages in Democrat states than in Republican states. The presence of more marriages allows for more divorces to occur.

Recent Marriage and Divorce Rate Trends

A table from the CDC shows marriage rates dropped between 2004 and 2013 and increased a bit in 2014, while divorce rates were a bit less predictable within that same time frame. Between 2012 and 2014, however, they began to decrease steadily. An article in Deseret News says marriages are likely to increase from the recent drop or at least slow down on the decline in the next few years overall, but information regarding the Democrat vs. Republican breakdown on marriage and divorce rates for more recent years, as well as projections for the future, have yet to be seen.

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Divorce Statistics Republicans vs. Democrats