Divorce Rate in the U.S.: Geographic Variation, 2018

This Family Profile  has been updated with new data. Click here to access the most recent version, FP-20-25.

(Updated profiles include: FP-09-02, FP-13-14, FP-14-17, FP-15-18, FP-16-21, FP-17-24, FP-18-21, FP-19-23)

Family Profile No. 23, 2019
Author: Colette Allred

U.S. Divorce Rate, 2018*

  • The divorce rate continued to decline in 2018, reaching a 40-year low.
  • The divorce rate was 15.7 divorces per 1,000 married women in 2018, down from a divorce rate of 16.1 in2017 (FP-18-21).
  • Just over one million women (1,050,599) divorced in 2018.

Figure 1. Women’s Adjusted Divorce Rate, 1990-2018

fp-19-23-fig1
Source: NCFMR analyses of 1970-2000, National Center for Health Statistics; 2008-2018, U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 1-yr est. * The divorce rate = [(number of women divorced in the past 12 months) / (number of women divorced in the past 12 months + number of currently married women)]*1000

Five Highest and Lowest Divorce Rates, 2018  

  • Arkansas continued to hold the top ranking for the highest divorce rate, with about 26 divorces per 1,000 married women in 2018.
    • Arkansas also held the highest divorce rate in 2017, with a rate of 25.5 (FP-18-21).
  • North Dakota had the lowest divorce rate, with less than 9 marriages per 1,000 ending in divorce.

Figure 2. Women's Highest and Lowest Divorce Rates

orange shaded table showing Figure 2. Women's Highest and Lowest Divorce Rates
Source: NCFMR analyses of U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2018 1-yr est. *MOE = Margin of Error. The MOE is a measure of sampling error and expresses the maximum range in which the rate is expected to differ from the actual proportion. The MOE is calculated for the derived estimates at the 90% confidence level.

State Rankings and Geographic Variation in Divorce Rates, 2018

  • The 12 states with the highest divorce rates (making up the first quartile) had rates of at least 18.0 divorces per 1,000 married women in 2018.
  • The 13 states that experienced the lowest divorce rates (making up the fourth quartile) had fewer than 13.8 divorces per 1,000 married women in 2018.

Figure 3. State Variation in the Adjusted Divorce Rate per 1,000 Married Women Aged 15+ by Quartile, 2018

orange bar chart showing Figure 3. State Variation in the Adjusted Divorce Rate per 1,000 Married Women Aged 15+ by Quartile, 2018
Source: NCFMR analyses of U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2018 1-yr est.
  • Most states in the South had high divorce rates (in the first or second quartiles).
    • Exceptions included Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina, all of which were in the third quartile.
  • States with the lowest divorce rates (in the third or fourth quartiles) were located in the Midwest and Northeast regions of the U.S.
    • Exceptions included South Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, and Maine, which were in the first two quartiles of divorce rates.
  • States in the Western region of the country exhibited divorce rates in all four quartiles, with the largest share found in the second quartile. California was the only Western state in the fourth quartile.

Figure 4. Geographic Variation of Women’s Adjusted Divorce Rate Among States, 2018

varied shades of orange showing USA Figure 4. Geographic Variation of Women’s Adjusted Divorce Rate Among States, 2018
Source: NCFMR analyses of U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2018 1-yr est.
Data Sources
  • Clarke. S. C. (1995). Advanced report of final marriage statistics, 1989 and 1990. Monthly Vital Statistics Report, 42(12). National Center for Health Statistics. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/mvsr/supp/mv43_12s.pdf
  • National Center for Health Statistics (1974). Summary report final marriage statistics, 1970. Monthly Vital Statistics Report, 23(2), Supp.1. U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/mvsr/supp/mv23_02s1acc.pd
  • National Center for Health Statistics (1977). Advance report of final divorce statistics, 1975. Monthly Vital Statistics Report, 26(2), Supp. 2. U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/mvsr/supp/mv26_02s2acc.pdf
  • National Center for Health Statistics (1983). Advance report of final marriage statistics, 1980. Monthly Vital Statistics Report, 32(5), Supp. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/mvsr/supp/mv32_05s.pdf
  • National Center for Health Statistics (2001). Births, marriages, divorces, and deaths: Provisional data for January-December, 2000. National Vital Statistics Report, 49(6), Associated Table 3. Department of Health & Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr49/nvsr49_06.pdf
  • U.S. Census Bureau (2019). American Community Survey, 2018 1-Year Estimates [Table B12001]. https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=B12001&lastDisplayedRow=18&table=B12001&tid=ACSDT1Y2018.B12001
  • U.S. Census Bureau (2019). American Community Survey, 2018 1-Year Estimates [Table B12503]. https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=B12503&hidePreview=false&table=B12503&tid=ACSDT1Y2018.B12503&lastDisplayedRow=10
References
  • Schweizer, V. (2018). Divorce rate in the U.S.: Geographic variation, 2017. Family Profiles, FP-18-21. Bowling Green, OH: National Center for Family & Marriage Research. https://doi.org/10.25035/ncfmr/fp-18-21
Suggested Citation
  • Allred, C. (2019). Divorce rate in the U.S.: Geographic variation, 2018. Family Profiles, FP-19-23. Bowling Green, OH: National Center for Family & Marriage Research. https://doi.org/10.25035/ncfmr/fp-18-23
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This project is supported with assistance from Bowling Green State University. From 2007 to 2013, support was also provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s) and should not be construed as representing the opinions or policy of any agency of the state or federal government.