Examining divorce and marriage rates through history can provide a telling snapshot of what’s going on in the culture at large.
For example, data shows a spike in the marriage rate in the U.S. at both the start and conclusion of both World War I and World War II as well as a steep drop in the marriage rate during the Great Depression. The divorce rate steadily increased beginning in 1962 into the 1980s before leveling off and declining.
It is also interesting to consider how the divorce rate varies within different groups of people. Research shows there are numerous factors that affect your odds of divorcing. For example, we know that age, education level, employment status, geographic location, race, and income level all impact an individual’s odds of getting a divorce.
Moreover, we know certain occupations correlate with higher rates of divorce while other jobs seem to increase the odds of marital stability.
Flowingdata.com recently used data from the 2015 American Community Survey to produce a series of interactive charts plotting the divorce rate by occupations. Not surprisingly, occupations with higher salaries tend to have lower divorce rates.
Bartenders, flight attendants, and casino workers hold divorce rates more than 50 percent followed by machine operators and those in production jobs.
On the other hand, clergy, actuaries, and physicians are some of the least likely occupations to divorce with rates hovering between 15-22%.
Of course, as FlowingData’s Nathan Yau notes, it is crucial to be careful how you interpret this data.
“Correlation isn’t causation,” Yau wrote. “If someone who is already a physician quits and takes a job as a bartender or telemarketer, it doesn’t mean their chances of divorce changes. It probably says more about the person than anything else.
“Similarly, those with certain occupations tend to be from similar demographics, which then factors into how the individuals live their lives.”
Yau previously compared how the divorce rates for different groups compared among men and women. He was surprised to discover that within groups such as race, education, and employment status, the divorce rate varies based on whether the individual is male or female.
“I expected the percentages to end up at similar values for most of the groups, but there’s some flip-flopping between men and women as you change between different demographics,” he wrote. “There also seems to be a bigger difference between men and women among the employed and those with advanced degrees.”
Yau speculated that the reason for those disparities could be because there is less divorce opportunity for men since they tend to marry later than women and have lower life expectancies, but that is an untested hypothesis.
Examining this data is interesting and informative. However, as Yau cautioned, it should not be used to make gross generalizations regarding divorce demographics. Instead, it should show how there are numerous interwoven factors that work together to sometimes affect a person’s odds of eventually divorcing.
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