Mapping Americans’ Divorce Risk By State Paints an Unnerving Picture

Couples living in Iowa and Hawaii seem to stick it it out, with divorce rates as low as 20 percent. Oklahoma, on the other hand, boasts a 65.7 percent divorce rate.

It’s a myth that half of all marriages end in divorce. True, divorce rates in the United States peaked at around 50 percent in 1980, but those scary statistics have since declined to the point that the current risk of divorce is closer to 40 percent. As with most national statistics, however, numbers vary greatly from state to state. Couples living in Iowa and Hawaii seem to stick it out; those states have divorce rates near 20 percent. Couples in Oklahoma, however, don’t seem to have the stomach for it and get divorced at a startling 65.7 percent rate, meaning two out of every three marriages end in paperwork.

Here’s a map of divorce rates per state, compared to countries from around the world, including America (way to be average Illinois):

The country data in this map comes from Eurostat, the European Union’s own statistical branch. The state data comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To figure out the percent of marriages that end in divorce for each state, we borrowed the EU’s method and divided divorce rates by marriage rates for 2016, and then multiplied the solution by 100. Not too tricky and it gets the job done. That said, there are several caveats to consider when viewing this map. First of all, the following six states provide the CDC with marriage rates, but do not provide data on divorce rates: California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota, and New Mexico. For these states, we assumed the average U.S. divorce rate of 3.2 per 1,000 people, which may be (and likely is) inaccurate.  

It is also noteworthy that Nevada’s stellar divorce record on our map is almost certainly overstated. Since divorce risk is a function of marriage rate, and many people who do not live in Nevada get married in Las Vegas, Nevada has glaringly inaccurate marriage statistics. The average marriage rate in the U.S. is 6.9 per 1,000—Nevada’s is 28.4. Unfortunately, since Nevada is also the divorce capital of the country (4.3 per 1,000 vs the U.S. average of 3.2) we cannot fix this by simply assuming the national average for marriage or divorce rates. Nevada is a question mark on our map, and it’s reasonable to assume its actual rates are about average.

No matter what state you’re from, remember that location simply isn’t what is going to cause your marriage to dissolve. Infidelity, money problems, and addictions end most marriages according to divorce attorneys and speaking openly about your struggles, whether emotional or sexual, can prevent nip many marriage problems in the bud. Consider marriage counseling if you’re struggling to get along with your spouse—especially when kids are in the picture.