Special Report

The States With the Most (and Least) Divorces

8. Oregon
> Pct. population divorced: 13.1%
> Median household income: $50,251 (23rd lowest)
> Pct. never married: 30.3% (19th lowest)
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 30.7% (18th highest)

Income appears to influence the long-term success of marriage. Oregon’s median income of $50,251 was still below the national figure of $52,230 but above most of the states with large divorced populations. Oregon’s share of divorcees was even higher among older adults. Over 21% of residents aged 55 to 64 were divorced, compared to 18.2% of all Americans in that age group. Mental illness appears to be connected to higher divorce rates, and this may have been a factor for Oregon in particular. Nearly one out of four adults reported having some form of mental illness, the highest rate in the country.

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7. Kentucky
> Pct. population divorced: 13.1%
> Median household income: $43,399 (5th lowest)
> Pct. never married: 28.0% (5th lowest)
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 22.6% (6th lowest)

Nearly 13% of Americans aged 35 to 44 were divorced. In Kentucky, 17% of residents in that age cohort were divorced, the fourth-highest percentage nationwide. Older Americans, between 55 and 64 years old, were the most likely cohort to be divorced, with 18.2% reporting divorced marital status. As in most states with high numbers of divorced residents, more than one in five Kentucky adults in that age group were divorced, also one of the highest proportions nationwide. Financial burdens may have made relationships more challenging for many families in Kentucky — a typical household earned $43,399 annually, nearly the lowest household median income nationwide.

6. Florida
> Pct. population divorced: 13.1%
> Median household income: $46,036 (12th lowest)
> Pct. never married: 31.4% (22nd lowest)
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 27.2% (21st lowest)

For the most part, states with high marriage rates also have more divorcees, relative to their populations. In Florida, this was not so much of a factor. Just 68.6% of the population reported being either currently or previously married. In most of the states with large divorced populations, at least 70% of adults were married at some point. One factor that may have contributed to the Sunshine State’s higher incidence of divorce is the effect low income may have had on marriages. Florida had an above-average poverty rate and a median income below the national figure.

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5. West Virginia
> Pct. population divorced: 13.2%
> Median household income: $41,253 (3rd lowest)
> Pct. never married: 28.1% (6th lowest)
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 18.9% (the lowest)

Cutting ties with a spouse is often a very difficult process for all involved, and many couples wait years before resorting to divorce. Less than 4% of Americans between ages 20 and 34 were divorced, the lowest percentage compared to other age groups. In West Virginia, however, 6.6% of residents age 20 to 34 were divorced, the second highest after only Arkansas. Low incomes in West Virginia, perhaps especially among the state’s younger residents, may have contributed to greater financial stress and thus a higher incidence of divorce. West Virginia had a median household income of $41,253, the third lowest in the country. Fewer than 19% of adults in the state had at least a bachelor’s degree, the lowest percentage nationwide, and a likely contributor to low incomes. In addition, many unhappy couples choose not to divorce for the sake of their children. West Virginia households were the least likely to have children — just 37% were home to related children under 18.

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