Divorce Rates in America

Divorce Rates in America

A few government agencies track key statistics related to the divorce rate in America, along with other key statistics related to the U.S. population. The best sources for data related to the divorce rate include the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the United States Census Bureau. To truly understand the different divorce rates in America, you need to look at how the statistics vary for a population as a whole and for specific groups.

Recent NCHS Divorce Statistics

The NCHS tracks all divorces in the total population of the U.S.

Year Divorces (including annulments) Rates per 1,000 (total population) Marriages Rates per 1,000 (total population) Percentage of Divorces (divorce/marriages)
2016 827,261 3.2 2,245,404 6.9 36%
2015 800,909 3.1 2,221,579 6.9 36%
2014 813,862 3.2 2,140,272 6.9 38%
2013 832,157 3.3 2,081,301 6.8 39%
2012 851,000 3.4 2,131,000 6.8 39%
2011 877,000 3.6 2,118,000 6.8 41%
2010 872,000 3.6 2,096,000 6.8 41%
2009 840,000 3.5 2,080,000 6.8 40%
2008 844,000 3.5 2,157,000 7.1 39%
2007 856,000 3.6 2,197,000 7.3 38%
2006 872,000 3.7 2,193,000 7.5 39%

Recent Census Bureau Divorce Statistics

The United States Census Bureau also offers statistics for divorce rates of men and women of all races from the total population. This information is approximated.

Year # of Men Divorced % of Men Divorced (Divorced Men/All Men) % of Men Divorced in Total Pop. (Divorced Men/Total Population) # of Divorced Women % of Women Divorced (Divorced Women/All Women) % of Women Divorced in Total Pop. (Divorced Women/Total Population)
2017 10,891,000 8.6 4.2 14,591,000 10.9 5.6
2016 10,708,000 8.5 4.1 14,831,000 11.2 5.7
2015 10,952,000 8.8 4.3 14,874,000 11.3 5.8
2014 10,729,000 8.7 4.2 14,614,000 11.2 5.8
2013 10,954,000 9 4.3 14,434,000 11.2 5.8

Factors Impacting Divorce Rates in America

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Statistics from both government agencies indicate the rates for divorce in America over the last few years have remained steady. Additionally, if you look at the trend for the last ten years, there has been an overall decrease in the number of divorces. However, this is variable based on other factors too, like religion, occupation, race, political stance, and even geographic location. For example, Washington D.C. had the highest divorce rate in 2015, while Hawaii had the lowest. While the divorce rates for men and women have also been steady, more women seem to be getting divorced than men. (This could be attributed to multiple marriages/divorces.)

Changes to Marriage Rates

Like most statistics, divorce rates aren't in a bubble. You have to look at them in cooperation with other data, including marriage rates. According to the NCHS, the marriage rate is slowly going down. This can offer a bit of insight into why divorce rates have also decreased.

  • In 2016, the rate per 1,000 of the total population getting married was 6.9%. It remained fairly steady for a few years, going up from 6.8% in 2013.
  • The 2000, the marriage rate was 8.2%, so it decreased quite a bit between that year and 2016.
  • While marriage statistics have risen slightly over the last few years, they've dropped by 1.3 since 2000.

How Rates Are Configured

To understand American divorce rates, you need to look at how the information was gathered. This can help you to understand differences in statistics.

NCHS Data

Finding the divorce rate can be a little tricky. First of all, you need to look at the number of divorces that are reported through statistics. For example, the NCHS gets their divorce statistics from the National Vital Statistics Systems, which compiles their data from various jurisdictions registration records. They also compile the population from the CDC total population statistics that are gathered through population estimates based on census data. These two numbers are used to calculate the divorce rates per thousand. To get the percentage of divorces for a given year, you have to look at both the divorce and marriage statistics for that year. Simply take the number of divorces and divide them by the number of marriages.

U.S. Census Bureau Data

The statistics from the Census Bureau are gathered through surveys and data gathered through the American Community Survey. While the statistics presented are based on actual responses and numbers, the information is estimated for the population as a whole. This leads to differences in the statistics.

Consider the Source

Reported divorce rates can differ based on a variety of factors, including the population, sample size, reporting procedures, and the source. Rates that are garnered through federal programs will likely have more accurate statistics than sources that use a smaller sampling size. You also have to think about the population. For example, statistics gathered for the population as a whole will include everyone, young and old, which will lead to a lower divorce rate than a sample limited to people of marrying age. Statistics can tell you a lot about the current trends, but be sure to consider the source and other relevant factors any time you are reviewing conclusions based on data.

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Divorce Rates in America