Age and the divorce rate

Divorce is devastating for families, especially for children. Unfortunately, an estimated 50% of marriages will end in divorce, a number which is mirrored in other developed nations. But if we want to understand the problem it’s important to look at the information in a little more detail.

Delaying marriage until an older age lowers divorce rate


Most astonishingly the data suggests two things, the more times you are married the more likely you are to get divorced, and divorce rates are highest for younger individuals. For instance, when you break that down by number of marriages:

  • 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce.
  • 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce.
  • 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce.

What ages are getting divorced?


Age Women Men
Under 20 years old 27.6 percent 11.7 percent
20 to 24 years old 36.6 percent 38.8 percent
25 to 29 years old 16.4 percent 22.3 percent
30 to 34 years old 8.5 percent 11.6 percent
35 to 39 years old 5.1 percent 6.5 percent


So what does this information tell us? In an age of glamorizing romance and an idealized image of what marriage should be, maybe parents should be educating their young children about what realistic marital expectations and why it’s important to wait until you have fully developed to make this important commitment.

Additionally, reducing divorce also starts with the parents. Experts suggest if you are happily married you can reduce your children’s chance of getting divorced by 14%. Next, parents should encourage their children to wait until they are at least 25 years of age to get married. Just waiting will reduce a child’s chance of divorce by 24%.

What about living together? Living together is a marriage killer. Statistics indicate that cohabitation can increase the chances of divorce by as much as 40%. We could get all theoretical about why this might be but suffice it to say that many people who view marriage as a life-long commitment also view living together as a no-no.

The other statistics are also interesting. They note that certain religious groups are more likely to be divorced than atheists/agnostics, but I’d suggest that many atheists/agnostics simply don’t get married at all, thus they have no reason to divorce.

Having children lowers the divorce rate


One small bit of good news is the divorce rate among couples with children is 40 percent lower than couples without children. But unfortunately, forty-three percent of children growing up in America today are being raised without their fathers.

Not having a father in the home can be devastating, leading to increased poverty, higher incidence of crime, increased pregnancy rates and increased drop-out rates. Despite years of trying to tell American families that the dad is dispensable, we’re finding that for American children the story is actually the opposite.

What does all this tell us about divorce? We can draw several conclusions. First, saving marriages starts with parents who choose to remain married and set a good example for their children. Next, parents should encourage kids to stay in school and get married after the age of 25.

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