In 2014, nearly 18 marriages per 1,000 ended in divorce. This is a 5% decrease from 2013 (rate of 18.5) (FP-14-17) and a 14% decrease since 2008 (rate of 20.5) (FP-09-02). The divorce rate has dropped by almost a quarter (23%) in the past 35 years--the lowest it has been since 1970.
Figure 1. Women's Divorce Rate, 1970 - 2014
Five Highest and Lowest Divorce Rates, 2014
Women's Highest and Lowest Divorce Rates
1. Wash, D.C.
3. West Virginia
51. New Jersey
Washington, D.C. continued to have the highest divorce rate with almost 30 per 1,000 marriages ending in divorce (29.5).
New Jersey continues to have one of the lowest divorce rates; roughly 11 in 1,000 marriages ended in divorce in 2014.
After a peak in divorce in 1979, the divorce rate began a gradual decline until 2000. It fluctuated between 2005 and 2010, but has since begun a steep downward trajectory.
Washington, D.C. was ranked number 1 in 2013, with the highest divorce rate at 30 marriages per 1,000 ending in a divorce.
New Jersey was ranked number 46 in 2013 with 14 marriages per 1,000 ending in divorce. In 2013, Rhode Island had the lowest divorce rate at 11.5.
Sources: 1970-2000, National Center for Health Statistics; 2008-2014, U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 1-yr est.
The divorce rate = [(number of women divorced in the past 12 months) / (number of women divorced in the past 12 months + number of currently married women)] * 1,000
per every 1,000 married women in
State Changes in Rankings, 2013-2014
The majority, 69%, of states experienced a decrease in their divorce rates between 2013 and 2014. The three states with the greatest declines are Louisiana, Montana, and Washington.
In 2013, Louisiana experienced one of the largest increases in the divorce rate, but this was reversed in 2014, making it the state with the greatest decrease in the divorce rate.
Nine states had virtually the same divorce rate in 2013 and 2014. These stable states are Michigan, Colorado, Massachusetts, Kansas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Three out of ten states had an increase in their divorce rate. The top three were Rhode Island, Delaware, and Utah.
Rhode Island experienced one of the largest decreases in the divorce rate in 2013, but experienced the largest increase in 2014.
Eickmeyer, K. J. (2015). Divorce Rate in the U.S.: Geographic Variation, 2014 (FP-15-18). National Center for Family & Marriage Research.
Retrieved from: http://www.bgsu.edu/ncfmr/resources/data/family-profiles/eickmeyer-divorce-rate-us-geo-2014-fp-15-18.html
Figure 2. Geographic Variation of Women's Divorce Rate Among States, 2014
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2014 1-yr est.
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This project is supported with assistance from Bowling Green State University. From 2007 to 2013, support was also provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s) and should not be construed as representing the opinions or policy of any agency of the state or federal government.
National Center for Family & Marriage Research
Family Profiles: Original reports summarizing and analyzing nationally representative data with the goal to provide the latest analysis of U.S. families. These profiles examine topics related to the NCFMR's core research themes.