5 Things We Learned About Marriage by Playing With a Divorce Tool

Turns out that 50% stat isn’t quite accurate

By The Editors
March 30, 2016 9:00 am

Glynn “Scotty” Wolfe got married at the age of 22, but it was not the first time he’d tie the knot.

Mr. Wolfe took the plunge 28 more times before he died at the ripe old age of 89. He spent his final years as a single man following his divorce from wife No. 29, Linda Essex, who is, fittingly enough, listed beside him in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most married woman.

While Mr. Wolfe is an extreme example of the ever-growing popularity of divorce in the U.S., many have come to accept divorce as a kind of inevitability: Half of all American marriages end in failure.

As it turns out, though, that isn’t entirely true.

Using data about gender, employment, education level and race or origin that was taken from the American Community Survey of married or previously married people between 2009 and 2014, FlowingData has created an interactive chart about divorce in the U.S.

Here are five things we learned.

  1. The divorce rate doesn’t exceed 45 percent for any demographic.
    While 45% of Native American women have been divorced or remarried by the age of 90, they are the most-divorced demographic, followed closely by Native American men. That 50% split rate may sound good, but isn’t accurate.
  2. The longer you stay married, the more likely you are to remain married.
    Save a few outliers, the divorce rate curve for nearly every demographic starts to level out around the age of 70. Score one for sticking it out.
  3. Everyone gets divorced … except Asians.
    By age 70, nearly 40% of all (male and female) Native American respondents had been divorced. That number was about 36.5% for African Americans, 31.5% for whites and 26% for Hispanics. Asian Americans, however? Just 15%.
  4. Employed women with advanced degrees are more likely to divorce than men.
    Women with jobs and advanced degrees of all ages are substantially more likely to have remarried or divorced than their male counterparts. By age 70, 26% of women with advanced degrees had divorced, while 37% of overall employed women had. For men, those numbers are 21% and 31%, respectively.
  5. No job + high school education = divorce.
    The divorce rate is all-too-predictably higher across the board for men and women with a high school education or less than it is for their college-educated counterparts. The same goes for unemployed vs. employed.

Bonus divorce stat for your dinner party: The United States actually has the third-highest divorce rate in the world, behind Belarus and the Maldives. Cuba and Estonia follow us on the list.

Image via Columbia Pictures

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