Friday, October 23, 2009

The States of Marriage and Divorce

A new report from Pew Research Center® — the 2008 American Community Survey — offers the most detailed portrait yet from the U.S. Census Bureau of marriage and divorce statistics at the state level.

Results from the report show that, in the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma, men and women marry young — half of first-time brides in these states were age 24 or younger on their wedding day. Results also revealed that these states have above-average shares of women who divorced in 2007-2008, as well.

However, in Massachusetts and New York, their residents marry late — half of ever-married New York men were older than age 30 when they first wed. These states also have below-average shares of men and women who divorced in 2007-2008.

About 6 percent of Texans who have ever been married have wed three times or more. That is similar to the national average (5%), but well below the leaders in this category — the neighboring states of Arkansas and Oklahoma — where about 10 percent of all ever-married adults have had at least three spouses. In New York and Massachusetts, just 2 percent of ever-married adults have been married at least three times, placing them at the bottom on this measure among the 50 states.

Several states in the Midwest and Mountain regions have among the highest shares of men and women who are currently married. In Idaho, 58 percent of men and 56 percent of women live with a spouse. In Iowa, 56 percent of men and 53 percent of women do. In Utah, 56 percent of both men and women are currently married. At the opposite end, only 47 percent of men in Alaska are currently married, as are 48 percent of women in that state. In Rhode Island and New Mexico, 48 percent of men are married. Among women in Rhode Island and New York, 43 percent are.

Looking at divorced adults, 13 percent of Nevada's men and 16 percent of its women fit in that category, as do 12 percent of Maine's men and 15 percent of its women. They are among the states with the largest shares of currently divorced residents, a distinction they share with Oklahoma.

The number of divorces within the previous 12 months per 1,000 women tends to be high in states where women marry young, such as Oklahoma and Idaho. But, the same link is not as strong for men: Alaska and Wyoming, for example, are among the top states for recently divorced men, but they are not states where men marry especially young. Click here for the full report. []

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