For the romantic of heart, the statistics about marriage in America are grim. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 746,971 people were divorced in 2019, compared to 2,015,603 marriages. This divorce rate translates into 2.7 of every 1,000 people. The Institute for Family Studies claims the U.S. divorce rate has changed little since 1970.
Divorce is also expensive, both financially and in terms of the effects on parents and children. The average cost of a divorce is $13,000. In cases involving child custody, the number usually is higher. There can be emotional effects for children, including feelings of isolation, a decline in school performance and emotional distress.
Statistics show that married people in some states stay together much longer than in others. 24/7 Tempo has ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia according to the average duration of their marriages. Of course, the rankings are influenced by more than just death and divorce rates. Other factors include median age at marriage, which differs for men and women, and age demographics.
The numbers can vary significantly. For example, the median age at first marriage for men in Connecticut is 32.1 years, while in Wyoming, it is only 26.5. The median age at first marriage for women in Rhode Island is 30.5, but in Utah it is only 24.8.
Because of all the variables, the median duration of current marriages also varies dramatically, from a high of 22.5 years in West Virginia to a low of 11.1 in the District of Columbia, less than half as long. Generally, marriages seem to last longer in the North and Northeast and not as long in the South and Southwest. Different social mores may account for some of the variations. Note that, in many cases, states with a higher percentage of older residents also have longer-lasting marriages.
To identify the state where people stay married the longest, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the median duration of current marriages in every state and the District of Columbia from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey (ACS).
Data on median age at first marriage for males and females, the percentage of state residents 15 and older who are widowed and the percentages of each population between the ages of 25 to 35, 18 to 62 and 65 or more were also from the ACS.
The state where people stay married the longest is West Virginia. Here are the details:
- Median duration of current marriage (2019): 22.5 years
- Median age at first marriage (male): 28.6 (13th youngest)
- Median age at first marriage (female): 26.3 (eighth youngest)
- Widowed, as of 2019: 7.9% (the oldest)
- Population age 25 to 35: 11.8% (211,267 total, the youngest)
- Population age 18 to 62: 54.8% (982,503 total, second youngest)
- Population age 65 and over: 20.5% (367,400 total, third oldest)
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