It may feel like marriage is a bigger leap of faith than ever before, but the truth is the divorce rate in the U.S. peaked at about 40 percent around 1980 and has declined ever since, according to data from the National Survey of Family Growth.
That’s the good news for newlyweds. There is less encouraging news if you or your spouse serve in the military or work as an automotive service technician, logistician, chemical technician, or in food preparation or service. An analysis of U.S. Census data shows that workers in these fields have higher divorce rates by age 30 than those who work in other jobs.
The highest divorce rate was for first-line military supervisors, a high-stress role that involves leading military operations and coordinating activities. This group has a divorce rate of 30 percent. Two other military work categories made the top eight in terms of divorce rate – military enlisted tactical operations and air weapons, and military (rank not specified).
The Stress of Serving Others
The stress of serving in the military is widely recognized, even by those who have not served. According to a 2008 Princeton study, when compared to civilian divorce rates, the divorce rate for enlisted men is lower and it is higher for enlisted women. The higher divorce rate overall among military personnel is thought to be due in part to the stress of active service and the military’s tendency to recruit individuals who are already high risks for divorce based on emotional or financial instability.
How does one account for high divorce rates in occupations such as auto mechanic or food preparation? One theory is that jobs that require serving the public in any capacity create stress, and that stress is often brought home.
Data collected from various resources by the National Survey of Family Growth identifies other factors that can increase or decrease the likelihood of divorce. These include:
The age at which you marry – Marrying before 25 increases the chances of divorce. Recent research suggests that marrying between age 28 and 32 is the “sweet spot” for a successful marriage.
Education level – A college graduate is about 10 percent more likely to divorce. Oddly, woman with a college degree average 14.2 divorces per 1,000 marriages, while women who only complete some college have a rate of 23 divorces per 1,000 marriages.
Children – Not surprisingly, couples that have children are less likely to divorce. However, that does not imply all is well. One study shows that ratings of happiness and life satisfaction decrease after having kids.