Divorce Risk Highest at 25

June 8, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Data-driven | Men | Women | Youth & Gen X

The risk of divorce is highest for married 25-year-olds, according to analysis of US government data by the Pew Research Center.

Highest Divorce Risk for Adults at 25
Pew statistics indicate more than half of married 25-year-olds will divorce at some point, while 45% of 50-year-old men and 46% of 50-year-old women will eventually divorce. Of 50-year-olds who divorce, 81% of men and 71% of women will eventually remarry.

Annual Divorce Risk is Low
Despite these high percentages, the risk of a marriage ending in any given year is low. In 2008, among couples married for four decades or more, half a percent or less had obtained a divorce in the previous 12 months. Among couples married for 25 years or more, the share that divorced in the previous year is about 1%.

Half of Couples Reach 25th Anniversary
The risk of a marriage ending, both from divorce and death, rises as it lasts longer. According to Pew analysis of US Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) 2004 data, in any given year, short-duration marriages are most likely to be intact.


As one illustration, among men who got married for the first time between 1970 and 1974, 89% were still married to the same wife on their fifth anniversary, 74% on their 10th anniversary and 65% on their 15th anniversary. By their 20th anniversary, 58% were married, and by their 25th, 54% were.

Trends for women who married during the early 1970s are similar to those for men, but the shares still married to their initial spouse on each anniversary are lower as women are more likely to be widowed than men.

Most Divorces Occur among Younger People, Marriages
Although overall risk of both divorce and widowhood rise as a marriage progresses, the majority of divorces occur among younger people and marriages that have lasted fewer years. Among first marriages that split up, men divorce at a median age of 31.8 and women at a median age of 29.4, according to SIPP statistics.

For many years, 65% of marriages have been intact at their 15th anniversary. This statistic holds true for marriages that occurred between 1970-74, 1975-79, and 1980-84 (the last period for which Pew has statistics available). For contrast, 80% of marriages that occurred between 1955-59 lasted 15 years.


The national divorce rate is higher now than it was a century ago, but it has been declining for the past two decades. According to Pew analysis of provisional data for most states from the Centers for Disease Control, there were 3.5 divorces per 1,000 people in 2008, compared with four per 1,000 people in 2000. Marriage rates have also declined but the divorce rate also has declined if expressed as the number of divorces per 1,000 married couples.

1 in 7 New Marriages is Interracial
In addition to declining divorce rates, US marriage trends also show increasing rates of interracial marriage, according to other Pew data. A record 14.6% of all new marriages in the US in 2008 were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another. White-Hispanic couples accounted for about four-in-ten (41%) of such new marriages; white-Asian couples made up 15%; and white-black couples made up 11%.

The remaining third consisted of marriages in which each spouse was a member of a different minority group or in which at least one spouse self-identified as being American Indian or of mixed or multiple races.

In 2008, a record 8% of currently married adults in the US had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity. In 1980, this figure was 3.2%.


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