Does where you live cause you to divorce?


In 2011, the Census Bureau released a report that included the rates of divorce for each state in 2009.  This report set off wild speculation about why some states have high or low divorce rates.

It is obvious that the soil, weather or average daily temperature have little to do with divorce rates, so what might lead to differential divorce rates among the states.

Here are some hypotheses and comparison of two states—Minnesota and Georgia.

First, what are the divorce rates for Minnesota and Georgia?

In 2009, the divorce rate for men in Minnesota is 7.4 per 1000 men and for women it is 7.8 per 1000 women.  In Georgia the divorce rate is 11.5 per 1000 men and 11.7 per 1000 women. The divorce the United States for women was 9.7 divorces per 1000 women and 9.2 divorces per 1000 men.  And the range of divorces for women was from the lowest in New Jersey of 6.0 divorces to 16.2 divorces in Alaska.    For men the highest divorce rate was 13.5 in Arkansas and the lowest was 6.3 in the District of Columbia.

So what are some of the reasons why the divorce rate might be different in these two states?  Table 1 provides the complete demographic comparison of both states.

The most obvious first idea is that there is a different rate in which people get married in each of these states.  In other words, if you have fewer marriages you will get fewer divorces.  So we should look to at the marriage rates in each state.  In 2009, the marriage rate in Minnesota is 15.3 for men and 15.4 for women and the rate in Georgia is 22.1 for men and 20.4 for women.  These numbers provide at least a clue about the differences in the divorce rate.  At least in the past year, more people are getting married in Georgia than in Minnesota.  Now one of the limitations of these numbers is that they are only the marriage rate in the past year, but if this difference has been generally consistent, then in Georgia there are just more married couples, therefore, more couples that can get divorced.

Young people in the age group of 25-34 are more likely to be getting married.  Different states may have more or less people in this age group.  In Minnesota, the percentage of the population in this age range is 13% and in Georgia it is 14%.  Thus, it does not appear as if there are simply more young people of marriageable age that might increase the marriage and ultimately the divorce rate.

Another factor that might make a difference is the age of first marriage.  We know from other data that couples that marry at a young age are more likely to divorce than couples who marry when they are older.  Perhaps the age at first marriage is different between the two states.

In Minnesota, the age of first marriage for men is 27.8 years and for women is 26.3 years.  In Georgia the age at first marriage for men is 27.7 years and the age for women is 25.9 years.  These numbers are quite similar so this is not likely to explain the differences in the divorce rate.

Some of the factors that are consistently related to higher divorce rates are education and income.  When the education and income levels are compared between the two states, Minnesota residents are in better shape.  Although residents of Georgia have about the same percentage of residents with a Bachelor’s degree, there are more residents without a high school education (almost 30%) compared with Minnesota that only has 18% without a high school degree.  Income also favors Minnesota.  There are fewer residents with incomes under $25,000 and in poverty compared to Georgia.

There are also differences in the divorce rate among racial and ethnic groups.  In a recent report, it was found that about 49% of Black marriages end in divorce compared to 41% of marriages of White marriages.  When you compare the two states, Georgia has a Black population of 30% compared to Minnesota that has only 5% Black residents.

Both states have about the same percentage of urban residents.

There is some evidence that people who are more mobile are more likely to divorce.  The suggestion is that these people are less attached to support systems and kin that may assist the couple.  Both states have a high degree of stability, but Georgia has a slightly more mobile population.

In addition to marrying at a young age, having a child as a teenager or outside of marriage can increase a person’s risk of divorce.  In both cases, Georgia has higher rates of teen births and births to unmarried women.

There is much debate about the role of religion in divorce.  There is no reliable estimates of the divorce rate among various religious groups.  The general perception of the south is that this is the “Bible Belt” referring to the historically large percentage of residents who are identified as conservative Christians.  Somewhat surprisingly, a higher percentage of Minnesotans identify themselves as Christian compared to Georgians.  We don’t have an estimate about whether these Christians are conservative or not.

In summary, the major differences between residents in the two states that may contribute to the differential divorce rate would seem to be the larger population of African-Americans, less education and lower incomes.  Many of factors that might contribute to higher divorce rates are similar between the two states.  It is important to understand the limits of this analysis; I conducted no statistical tests to compare the differences between the various demographic factors.  These conclusions might not hold up to a more rigorous analysis.

Table 1.  Summary of Demographic Characteristics of Residents of Minnesota and Georgia

 

Minnesota

Georgia

Factors

Men

Women

Men

Women

Divorce Rate

7.4

7.8

11.5

11.7

Marriage Rate

15.3

15.4

22.1

20.4

Age at First Marriage

27.8

26.3

27.7

25.9

Percentage of Population ages 25-34

13%

14%

Education (BA or more)

21.8%

19.3%

Education (High School)

82.4%

70.9%

Urban

70.9%

71.6%

Mobility (same house 2007-2008)

85.9%

82.6%

Religious Affiliation (Christian)

60.5%

43.1%

Ethnicity
  White

89%

65%

  Black

5%

30%

Births to Teens

7.1

12.2

Births to Unmarried Women

32.7

43.6

Household Income under $25,000

21%

27%

Households below poverty

7%

12.7%

Data Sources:

All of the statistics in this report are based on data U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012 as follows:

Population Data:  http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/12statab/pop.pdf

  •  Table 16. Resident Population by Age and State: 2010
  • Table 19. Resident Population by Race and State: 2010
  • Table 29. Urban and Rural Population by State: 1990 and 2000
  • Table 33. Mobility Status of Resident Population by State: 2009
  • Table 77. Christian Church Adherents, 2000, and Jewish Population, 2010—States

Births, Deaths, Marriages & Divorces http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/12statab/vitstat.pdf

  • Table 78. US Divorce Rates 1960-2008
  • Table 89. Percent of Births to Teenage Mothers, Unmarried Women, and Births with Low Birth Weight by State and Island Areas: 2000 to 2009
  • Table 131 Percentage of First Marriages Reaching Stated Anniversary by Sex and Year of Marriage (2009)
  • Table 133. Marriages and Divorces—Number and Rate by State: 1990 to 2009

Income, Expenditures, Poverty and Wealthhttp://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/12statab/income.pdf

  • Table 706. Household Income—Distribution by Income Level and State: 2009

Divorce & Same-Sex Couples


Now that same-sex marriage is legal, what do we know about divorce among same-sex partners?

Aarskaug Wiik, K., Seierstad, A., & Noack, T. (2014). Divorce in Norwegian Same‐Sex Marriages and Registered Partnerships: The Role of Children.Journal of Marriage and Family, 76(5), 919-929.  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jomf.12132/full

Rosenfeld, M. J. (2014). Couple Longevity in the Era of Same‐Sex Marriage in the United States. Journal of Marriage and Family, 76(5), 905-918.  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jomf.12141/full

Trandafir, M. (2015). Legal recognition of same-sex couples and family formation. Demography, 52(1), 113-151.  http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13524-014-0361-2

 

 

Divorce Research Update– 6-29-2015


New ideas to consider in thinking about child support policy.  Too often we assume that over the past few decades we understand the economic consequences of divorce and that we have created appropriate policy responses regarding child support.  These 2 reports suggest that we still have much to learn.  Meyer and colleagues raise many questions about how child support laws are working and a report from the Australian Institute of Family Studies explores the variations in the economic circumstances of families in Australia, Germany, Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

A more complete list of research report about divorce, remarriage and stepfamilies published in 2015 or between 2010-2015.

Meyer, D. R., Cancian, M., & Chen, Y. (2015).  Why Are Child Support Orders Becoming Less Likely after Divorce?  Social Service Review.

Despite substantial policy attention to increasing the number of custodial parents
with child support orders, the proportion reporting that they are owed child support is falling.  Potential explanations for this include increases in shared custody, increases in the …

de Vaus, D., Gray, M., Qu, L., & Stanton, D. (March 2015).  The Economic Consequences of Divorce in Six OECD Countries, Research Report No. 31,  Australian Institute of Family Studies.  

This report presents a cross-national comparison of the short- and medium-term economic effects of divorce.  Estimates for men and women are derived from longitudinal data from Australia, Germany, Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

It details how the main sources of income for women change following divorce, and the relative contribution of these sources. The findings show that though divorce has a negative effect on the equivalent household incomes of women in all of these countries, the extent and duration of these negative effects differ markedly between the nations.

The report concludes by briefly considering the possible causes of these differences.

 

Divorce Science Research Updates 6-22-2015


Children refusing to visit a separated or divorced parent is one of the most difficult issues affecting postdivorce adjustment.  Although this is a small group of children, there are many unanswered questions.  Below is some of the most recent work in this area.

Longer list of studies published regarding parental alienation between 2010-2015.  A more complete list of research report about divorce, remarriage and stepfamilies published in 2015 or between 2010-2015.

Parental Alientation

Polak, S., & Saini, M. (2015). Children Resisting Contact With a Parent Postseparation: Assessing This Phenomenon Using an Ecological Systems Framework. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 56(3), 220-247. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10502556.2015.1012698

Trend in Children under 18 Living with Single Fathers


More children are living with their divorced or never married dads in the last 40 years, but look at what happened during the recession– more divorced dads with children and a dramatic drop for unmarried fathers.  The employment status of unmarried fathers may have something to do with this change.  More US Census Bureau demographics about living arrangements of children.

Children under 18 living with single father

 

Divorce Science Research Update 6-15-2015


In this update, we highlight a divorce education program developed for use in Spain.  Several countries in Europe only recently legalized divorce so there is much work to assist families in understanding the process and developing coparenting skills.  The results of this study suggest that this program shows much promise.

Martínez-Pampliega, A., Aguado, V., Corral, S., Cormenzana, S., Merino, L., & Iriarte, L. (2015). Protecting Children After a Divorce: Efficacy of Egokitzen: An Intervention Program for Parents on Children’s Adjustment. Journal of Child and Family Studies, , 1-11. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10826-015-0186-7

A more complete list of research reports about divorce, remarriage and stepfamilies published in 2015 or between 2010-2015.

Trends in Children Living with Single Mothers — US


Children living with unmarried single mothers has risen sharply for children over the past 40 years.  Almost half of children who are living with in mother-only households are headed by unmarried single mothers.  This graph from the US Census Bureau shows the patterns.

Trends in Number of Children Living with Single Mothers

Divorce Science Research Update 6-5-2015


The most recent issue of the  Journal of Divorce and Remarriage  focus on divorce education, young adult adjustment, stepfamily adjustment and divorce in Portugal. This is Volume 56, Issue 4, 2015.

Portugal fairly recently (2008) enacted a “no-fault” divorce law.  Divorce rates in Portugal have been trending slightly upward over the past decade. (See graph.)

A more complete list of research report about divorce, remarriage and stepfamilies published in 2015 or between 2010-2015.

Divorce in Portugal 

Pereira, M. G., & Pinto, H. (2015). Women’s Perception of Separation/Divorce in Portugal: A Sociodemographic Profile. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 56(4), 300-316. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10502556.2015.1025896

Divorce Education (more resources for Divorce Education…)

Becher, E. H., Cronin, S., McCann, E., Olson, K. A., Powell, S., & Marczak, M. S. (2015). Parents Forever: Evaluation of an Online Divorce Education Program. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 56(4), 261-276. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10502556.2015.1025900

Young Adult Adjustment to Their Parents’ Divorce

Connel, B., Hayes, D., & Carlson, M. (2015). Relation Between Parental Divorce and Adjustment in College Students. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 56(4), 336-345. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10502556.2015.1025756

Konstam, V., Curran, T., & Karwin, S. (2015). Divorce and Emerging Adult and Young Women: Building Foundations for Self-Development. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 56(4), 277-299. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10502556.2015.1025897

Stepfamilies

Zeleznikow, L., & Zeleznikow, J. (2015). Supporting Blended Families to Remain Intact: A Case Study. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 56(4), 317-335. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10502556.2015.1025845

 

Trend in Portugal’s Divorce Rate


After a spike in the divorce rate in 2002, the divorce rate in Portugal has only slightly increased over the past decade.  In 2008, “no-fault divorce” was legalized which may account for the slight increase in divorce since 2003.

A more complete list of research report about divorce, remarriage and stepfamilies published in 2015 or between 2010-2015.

Portugal divorce rates 1999-2012

Divorce Science Research Update 5-29-2015


This week’s summary is a report in The Journal of Chinese Sociology about the role of children (number, age, etc.) in predicting divorce.  Also, below is a figure showing the growth in the Chinese divorce rate.

A more complete list of research report about divorce, remarriage and stepfamilies published in 2015 or between 2010-2015.

Xu, Q., Yu, J., & Qiu, Z. (2015). The impact of children on divorce risk. The Journal of Chinese Sociology, 2(1), 1. http://www.journalofchinesesociology.com/content/2/1/1

Chinese Divorce Rate-- 1979-2009