Social Issues: Marriage and Divorce

The ratio of annual divorces to marriages in the United States.
The ratio of annual divorces to marriages in the United States.  

Related "Issue of the Day" Entries

Disadvantages Exist for Some Who are Never Married
Published Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

A new study derived from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth,Who Marries and When? Age at First Marriage in the United States: 2002,” suggests that only 17% of American women haven’t married by age 35, compared to 25% of men. Further evidence indicates that there is a 50% probability that women marry for the first time by age 25; men don’t hit 50% until 27 years of age. By 40 years of age, the probability rises to 86% for women and 81% for men. By race, there are differences even as early as age 18, in which there is a 10% probability of Hispanic women being married — doubling white women and triple that of black women. Between 25 and 44, 84% of non-Hispanic women have married vs. 56% of non-Hispanic black women. The report involved 12,571 people — 4,928 males and 7,643 females between 15 and 44 years old.

The data points to a large minority of black women still unmarried during nearly half their lifetime; while not necessary, it leaves single mothers disadvantaged in many ways. Though down after years of successful campaigns, teen birth rates among black teens is still second to Hispanic teens. The highest education level of both men and women of all races tends to be high school graduation and some college for those divorced or never married.

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Marriage and Divorce Ratio Remains Steady
Published Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Massachusetts first gay marriage couple, Julie and Hillary Goodridge who led the fight for gay marriage, has filed for divorce. The Goodridges in 2004 were among seven couples who filed a lawsuit that led to a court ruling making Massachusetts the first state to legalize same-sex marriages. As a result they became the poster couple for the debate in the state and were the first to be married the day same-sex marriages became legal in Massachusetts. After the ruling, Vermont, California, New Jersey, District of Columbia and Connecticut are the only U.S. states to offer same-sex couples all or some of the state-level rights and benefits of marriage. Hawaii and Maine’s domestic partnership and reciprocal benefit laws provide some but not all benefits. In reaction, nineteen states banned gay marriage.

Gay marriage has not been legalized long enough to establish gay divorce gay marriage statistics, although in the West, statistics are usually taken to be interchangeable with opposite-sex couples. Marriage and divorce statistics for opposite-sex couples show a marked decline in the rate of marriages and divorces since 1980. Yet, the ratio between marriages and divorces has basically remained the same as both declined.

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Federal Statistics: Marriage and Divorce -
Marriage and divorce rates currently may be calculated from provisional counts received from State health departments. Trend marriage and divorce rates by State for 1990, 1995, and 1999-2004 are available.

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