And the 2011 divorce rate is…

18.9 divorces per 1,000 married people.

You heard it here first.

I don’t have a new analysis, but here’s the trend since 2008, when the American Community Survey started collecting data on “marital events” in the previous 12 months:

These are not recorded legal events, remember, but responses to a giant survey that asks people about their marital status and marital events.

The different rates for men and women are something of a mystery (to me). As long as they rise and fall together, I don’t worry about it too much. Unfortunately, in 2011 they didn’t — it’s up for men and flat for women, resulting in a net uptick. Since I’ve been predicting an uptick following the recession, I figure we should go with that interpretation. (Don’t be tempted attribute the difference to gay men’s divorces — we’re talking about 2.4 million divorces, a tiny tiny slice of which are homogamous.)

To put this in the long-term perspective, here’s the 1940-2011 trend, cobbled together from different sources. Given the long decline after 1979, any uptick feeds suspicion that something is changing or different about the last couple years.

If you want to replicate this, you start here at the FactFinder, then get the number of married people by gender (ACS Table B12001) and the number of people who got divorced in the 12 months before the survey (ACS Table S1251) — you can enter the table numbers into the search box.

For my series on divorce, divorce and the recession, and etc., follow the divorce tag.


9 thoughts on “And the 2011 divorce rate is…

  1. I’m not sure how to reconcile the inconsistencies between your ACS estimates and those posted by the National Marriage Project at

    Is it because the ACS data are national and the CDC data omit California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, and Minnesota?

    The ACS data suggest are sizable jump somewhere in the early 2000s, but the CDC data imply a decline until about 2005, leveling off after that point.


    1. I don’t know how NMP handled the missing states. But anyway, I don’t know how to expect ACS estimates to differ from vital stats. Maybe Census did some kind of benchmarking when they tested the ACS questions.


Comments welcome (may be moderated)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s