What is the current divorce rate in the US?

As of 2017, the U.S. divorce rate was 2.9 per 1,000 people, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The marriage rate was 6.9 per 1,000 people.

Those numbers are extrapolated based on census figures and state-supplied data. However, studies from non-government sources often produce different estimates and interpretations.

Signing a petition for a dissolution of marriage

With that said, here are some of the most recent divorce statistics that show some trends for marriages in the United States:

  • In 2000, the NCHS estimated a national divorce rate of 4.0 per 1,000 people, compared with the estimated rate of 2.9 per 1,000 in 2017. That indicates that divorce rates have fallen significantly over the last decade.
  • A September 2018 study from the University of Maryland found that the United States refined divorce rate (the rate of divorces per 1,000 women) dropped by 21 percent from 2008 to 2017.
    The author noted that the “overall drop [in the divorce rate] has been driven entirely by younger women.” Essentially, the belief is that millennials are causing divorce rates to drop, since they’re more likely to wait to get married until they’ve established their careers—previous generations were more likely to marry young.
  • Another reason for the dropping rates: 15 percent of people aged 25 to 34 lived with an unmarried partner as of 2018, according to the United States Census. More Americans under the age 25 live with an unmarried partner (9 percent) than a married partner (7 percent). The number of unmarried cohabitations has increased significantly over the past two decades.
  • About 32 percent of U.S. children live with an unmarried parent, according to Pew Research. 15 million of those children live with a solo mother, while 3 million live with a solo father.
  • According to the American Psychological Association (APA), about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. Subsequent marriages tend to have higher divorce rates.
    The APA does not list its data sources, and most other statistics indicate that "50 percent of marriages end in divorce" was probably more accurate in the 1980s, but inaccurate today.

The takeaway is that divorce rates are declining, but so are marriage rates. When people get married, they tend to stay married, and younger generations are marrying at older ages than previous generations.

That’s due to gradual cultural changes, economic issues, and a host of other factors—divorce statistics are quite complex, so while we know that current divorce rates are around 2.9 per 1,000 people, that single number doesn’t tell the whole story.