Marriage and Divorce Statistics

Presented by Marty Friedman, Author of “Straight Talk for Men About Marriage—What Men Need to Know About Marriage (And What Women Need to Know About Men)”, and founder of

Less People are Married Now

  • Percentage of population that is married: 59%, down from 62% in 1990, 72% in 1970.
  • Percentage of population that has never married: 24%.

The Old “Father Knows Best” Homes are Increasingly Rare

  • Married couples in which only the husband is employed: 22.4%
  • Married couples in which only the wife is employed: 6.8%
  • Married couples in which both partners are employed: 53.5%

The Seven Year Mark is the Hardest

  • Median duration of first marriages that end in divorce: Males: 7.8 years, Females: 7.9 years.
  • Median duration of second marriages that end in divorce: Males 7.3 years, Females: 6.8 years.
    (All of above from U.S. Census Bureau)

More of Us Are Divorcing

  • 80% of divorces are unilateral (Harvard University Press)
  • Divorce increased almost 40% from 1970 to 1975 (National Center for Health Statistics).
  • The number of currently divorced adults quadrupled from 1970-4.3 mill. To 1994—17.4 mill. (Census Bureau)
  • Percentage of population that is divorced: Almost 10% (up from 8% in 1990, 6% in 1980) (Census Bureau)
  • Adults who are divorced (2000): Males 8.3%, Females: 10.2

Yet Most Adults Still Want to Be Married (And Fail At It)

  • Percentage of people who have ever been married by the age of 55: Both males and females: 95%
  • Percentage of first marriages that end in divorce in 1997: 50% (This is only an estimate, but everyone uses it as fact)
  • Percentage of remarriages that end in divorce in 1997: 60-70% (estimated)
  • Percentage of couples living together for more than five years who eventually marry as of 1995: 70%
  • Percentage of married people who reach anniversaries:
    5th: 82%
    10th: 65%
    15th: 52%
    25th: 33%
    35th: 20%
    50th: 5%

Divorce Has a Tremendous Impact on Children and Adults and On Society as a Whole

  • Drop in standard of living of females after divorce as of 2000: 45% (National Center of Health Statistics)
  • In 1996, children of divorce were 50% more likely than their counterparts from intact families to divorce. (National Center of Health Statistics)
  • Fatherless homes account for 63% of youth suicides, 90% of homeless/runaway children, 85% of children with behavior problems, 71% of high school dropouts, 85% of youths in prison, well over 50% of teen mothers. (National Center of Health Statistics)
  • (Journal of Marital and Family Therapy) Marital problems are associated with decreased work productivity, especially for men.

Marriage, General

  • Many more couples live together prior to marriage than in the past—recent estimates are in the range of 60+% (A nationwide random phone survey—Stanley and Markman) (Journal of Marriage and the Family) These couples are less likely to stay married, probably mostly due to the fact that they are less conservative about marriage and divorce in the first place.
  • Money is the one thing that people say they argue about most in marriage, followed by children (Stanley and Markman, nationwide phone survey), but there is a lot of reason to believe that what couples argue about is not as important as how they argue, (Markman, Stanley, and Blumberg, 1994)

For many years, Marty Friedman, author of “Straight Talk for Men About Marriage—What Men Need to Know About Marriage (And What Women Need to Know About Men)” taught corporate managers how to create good relationships at work before writing and speaking about men and marriage. He is regularly interviewed on radio and television, and speaks to organizations about communication, men, relationships and marriage. Find out more at