Marriage separation statistics can be difficult to accurately estimate. There are many married couples who separate, yet do not file for divorce despite living apart.
Marriage Separation Statistics Reported to Census
The U.S. Census asks households within the country a variety of demographic information including marital status. Although the statistical data provided to the Census by residents can certainly not be accepted as 100 percent accurate - some people do not tell the truth, some households never report, mathematical errors are made - the data can still be considered some of the most trustworthy data available with regards to residents within the United States.
According to Census data released in 2010, a little over 2 percent of the population claimed to be separated from their spouses. This statistic is less than the number of people claiming to be divorced from their spouses (over 9 percent), and further less still from the percentage of people over the age of 15 who have never been married (30 percent).
The Census further dissects these statistics. Of the 2.3 percent of U.S. residents who were separated:
- More females than males made the claim of being separated.
- Men with higher incomes were less likely to be separated than men with lower incomes.
- The lowest number of separations reported for both genders was within the age bracket of 65 and older.
- The highest number of women claiming to be separated from their spouses fell into two age groups: 35-39 and 40-44.
- Women with income are more likely than women without income to separate from their husbands with the exception of women who fall into the category of earning $75,000 or more annually; these women are less likely to separate, according to the data.
Keep in mind that the statistics reported by the Census can change frequently. There may also be plenty of people who did not respond accurately. For example, a percentage of the people who reported themselves as "married" may actually have been separated at the time.
A variety of interesting academic research and surveys have been conducted that have resulted in statistics regarding marital separation. Sometimes these statistics result from research specific to marital separation while other times the information comes from marriage or divorce separation.
Here are some highlights from academic research:
- McBride, 2010: People who are diagnosed with cancer while involved in marital separation have a statistically lower chance of survival than people diagnosed with cancer while married, widowed, or never married.
- Kolves et. al, 2010: Instances of suicidal ideation are higher among people who are separated from their spouses.
- Hewitt, 2009: Both genders are less likely to initiate separation if the couple has children together.
- Hewitt et. al, 2006: Women are statistically more likely to initiate separation than men.
- Toews et. al, 2005: Men who were physically abusive toward their wives during marriage are more likely to experience verbal abuse from their wives during separation.
Remember that just because research is conducted within an academic setting does not make the data infallible.
Accurate marriage separation statistics beyond what are offered by the Census and academic research are relatively hard to find. Marital separation can mean so many different things that it can be hard to quantify. For example, some people consider themselves separated if they live apart from their spouse but have not yet filed for divorce, while other people may consider themselves separated even if they still live under the same roof as their spouse, yet have made the decision to separate. Information is further convoluted by the fact that there is more than one type of separation. While some couples formally separate with attorneys involved, other couples informally separate but do not file any legal paperwork whatsoever.
The meaning of marital separation can also vary from one state to another. You may be able to find state-specific separation statistics by looking up demographic information for your state.