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As Nation’s Economy Recovers, Many Marriages Don’t

FRIDAY, NOV 22, 2019

The economy has continued to recover from the 2008 financial crisis, but an increasing number of marriages haven’t, according to a Social Explorer analysis.

The southern Oregon micropolitan statistical area of Brookings registered the highest percentage of divorced residents in the nation, according to the 2013-17 American Community Survey. One of every five people older than 15 years old are divorced in Brookings; women divorcees slightly outnumbered divorced men. The Oregon micro also registered the biggest increase in divorced residents between 2009 and 2017; only 13.6 percent of its population was divorced in 2009. The city has the fourth-highest median age (55.6) in the nation; although the overall divorce rate is down from previous decades, it’s increased for older generations.

The geographic distribution of the divorced population also provides more evidence for the theory that divorce correlates strongly to education. While the lowest percentages of the divorced population were found in places with high percentages of college graduates, the highest percentages of divorced people were reported in areas with a less-educated population.

Visualize and analyze the percentage of divorced men and women in U.S. Metro/Micro areas from the year 2009 to 2017.
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The five-year survey showed the percentage of divorced Americans rose to 10.9 percent in 2017, a slight increase from the 10.4 percent reported in 2009. The increasing divorce rate may be another barometer of a recovery from the 2007-09 economic crisis, when a significant number of American couples abandoned or postponed potentially expensive breakups, and a growing number of Millennials declined to tie the knot. A 2014 University of Maryland study estimated that the downturn was the likely cause for 150,000 fewer divorces than expected.

Nevada, the state with the greatest percentage of divorcees, was home to the city with the second-highest percentage of divorced residents in the nation. Carson City, the state’s capital, reported that 17.7 percent of its population was divorced in 2017. Taos, N.M., was number three (17.4 percent), followed by Pahrump, Nev. (17.2 percent), and McMinnville, Tenn. (17.1 percent). Nevada, along with Idaho, requires a six-week separation for a divorce to be granted — the shortest period in the nation.

The greatest concentration of divorced men was found in Fernley, Nev., about 30 miles east of Reno. The survey found 19.2 percent of men were divorced, a large jump from the 13.5 percent of divorced men living there in 2009. Brookings had the second-highest rate (18.1 percent) and Pahrump was third (17.5 percent). Among women, the highest percentage of divorcees was found in Brookings (21.8 percent), Carson City (19.7 percent), and McMinnville (19.6 percent).

Three of the five places with the lowest rates of divorced residents were located in cities with large populations belonging to the Mormon Church, which are less likely than members of other religions to divorce. These locations including Rexburg, Idaho (5.1 percent), where an estimated 98 percent of residents belong to the church; Provo, Utah (5.8 percent), the home of the church’s largest missionary training center; and Logan, Utah (6.3 percent). Ames, Iowa, had the third-lowest percentage of divorced people (6.0 percent), followed by Brookings, S.D. (6.1 percent).

The percentage of divorced residents fell most sharply in Tifton, Ga., dropping from 12.2 percent in 2009 to 8.4 percent in 2017.  The divorced population also shrank considerable in Ketchikan, Alaska (down 3.5 percent to 13.6 percent), and Moberly, Mo. (down 2.8 percent to 13.2 percent).

Author: Frank Bass

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