The United States divorce rate has plunged for the third straight year, falling down to a 35-year low according to 2015 data from the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling State University.
On the other hand, more people are getting married, with 32.3 marriages occurring among 1000 single women 15-years old and above, a slight bump from 31.9 marriages in 2014. It’s the highest marriage rate since 2009, and seems to suggest that after several decades, marriage numbers might finally be stabilizing.
As NCFMR co-director Wendy Manning puts it, “The (marriage) decline has stopped.”
Each year, the NCFMR sources census data to identify year-over-year divorce and marriage statistics. For 2015, the center found that the divorce rate has been falling consistently and quickly, dropping down to 16.9, down from 17.6 in 2014 and a high of 23 in 1980.
What’s Causing the Decline?
Researchers aren’t exactly sure why the U.S. divorce rate has been in steady decline. However, there are a number of possible reasons, which include an aging populace, shifting gender roles, and the fact that there are fewer marriages to break up in the first place.
Still, the decline in the yearly divorce rate does not necessarily imply that marriages today are more likely to last. For example, while baby boomers married at a young age and continued getting married and divorced even in their older years, there’s no telling whether Gen Xers or millennials will do the same.
Manning added that their research shows a decline of divorce among younger couples, and an increase among those who are older.
As for the decline in marriages over the decades, one possible reason is that younger generations of adults have delayed getting married, tying the knot much later into adulthood, or not at all. And according to multiple sociologists, today’s typical marriage still has an equal chance of lasting, about the same probability several decades ago.
Marriage and Divorce Rates by State
The report also found that divorce and marriage rates vary greatly between different states.
- Washington D.C. and Wyoming had the highest divorce rates in 2015, at 29.9 and 27.9 respectively
- The states with the lowest divorce rates are New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin, all under 13, and Hawaii, with 11.1.
- States in the northeast have the lowest marriage rates.
- Utah has the highest marriage rates in the country, at 61.3, or around three times more than Rhode Island’s 21.4. However, Utah also has a divorce rate of 18, higher than 40 percent of the other states.
So with fewer Americans getting married, what exactly are they doing instead? Many are single and live on their own, while many couples are living together without getting married.