Marriage and divorce data roundup

72% of married couples in 2009 were man and woman in first marriage.  22% were one or both spouses in second marriage.

Median duration of  first marriage for American women is 20.8 years and for remarriage is 14.5 years, with the South and Midwest having longer median durations in both cases.  West and East have shorter median durations.

Pdf report with more details on marriage duration here.

Longer life expectancy means the current later marriage ages aren’t so bad, since it means longer marriages.  Men have 15 or more years on their 1890 counterparts and women have decades more on theirs.  


The takeaway is that divorce isn’t as rampant as some make out and marriages are lasting pretty long, and, well, Americans have been taking the fertility hit to marry later and in a better financial position for a long long time except for a brief 15 year blip.


8 thoughts on “Marriage and divorce data roundup

  1. One of the complaints I can see about your analysis is the later marriage ages means more challenges to chastity.

    I’d counter that by pointing out in many times throughout history, young men and women were still chaste despite marrying in their mid to late 20’s. The problem isn’t the later age of marriage, it’s the fact people have forgotten how to conduct one’s self to flee from temptation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Query: Has there been a decline in divorce rates in the last couple of decades? And does that track with a decline in marriage rates?

    I have seen the claim that proportionally fewer folks are getting divorced these days because folks who may have gotten a divorce a few decades ago never bothered to get married in the first place, and it seems plausible enough on the face of it. Is it supported by the data?

    The conclusions drawn from longer life expectancy also raise a couple of questions. Life expectancy is an average, yes? How much of the shorter life expectancy was due to more folks dying young, in childhood, in war, in childbirth, and so on (often without having ever married), and how much was due to was due to folks who reached old age not getting as old? I know our old folks due get a bit older, thanks I think at least in part to the decrease in hard manual labor, though improved medicine certainly plays a role, but men in 1890 were certainly not dying of old age in their 40’s.


    • The decline in divorce predates and possibly exceeds the decline in marriage rates.

      The comments to the census blog post about later marriage cover most of the LE topics you raised, several commenters discussed that when the post was made.


  3. Am I right in thinking that the big 1970s divorce boom probably represented a big “backlog” of people who wanted divorces but who hadn’t been able to earlier?

    So once they’d gotten their divorces, the number of new divorces might be relatively low.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry about the comment bomb (this comment has nothing to do with the post at hand), but many of your comments are closed on most of your previous posts. I’m not at all Conservative and consider myself quite Liberal, and I’m not very political, but I AM a SAHM, very likely for different reasons than you: I have bipolar disorder which has made a consistent career/job almost impossible.
    I’ve read many of your posts and want to thank you for opening up a space in my brain to consider the status and worth of the SAHM.
    I often tell my kids, 7 and 9, that being a sahm is a thankless job, however I see the confidence it gives them to have me instead of daycare workers seeing them off to school every morning and pick them up from school every afternoon and everything in between.
    Happy Tuesday to you.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, instead of men marrying at 22 and dying at 60, they’re marrying at 29 and dying at 75, usually having only had the one marriage. Women are not marrying 18 and dying of overwork or frequent births at 50, they’re marrying at 28 and dying at 80, again with usually just the one marriage. I didn’t really think of it that way myself, but that is what happened.


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