Though the popular misconception is that divorce is a forever-increasing trend in society, the fact is the numbers show that it ebbs and flows. Recent statistics released by the National Vital Statistics System (a federal agency) shed some light on the interesting issue of divorce and differences amongst the states.
One especially puzzling bit of data concerned the number of divorces in Utah. In 2012, courts across the state issued only 9,760 divorce decrees. That number represents a whopping 14 percent decline from 2011. No one knows what explains the drop, and many say it is likely only a statistical anomaly. Nevertheless, it has caused a good deal of buzz. Even with the drop, Utah's divorce rate comes in at 3.4 per 1,000 residents, a number that's only slightly below the national average divorce rate of 3.6 per 1,000 residents.
Another state that showed a big drop was New Mexico, where the number of divorces per 1,000 people dropped from 4.0 to 3.3 in only one year. On the other hand, Arizona saw a sizable increase in its divorce rate, rising from 3.5 to 3.9. According to 2011 numbers, Nevada had the highest divorce rate, with 5.6 divorces per 1,000 residents. Iowa had the lowest divorce rate at 2.4 per 1,000 people.
You may wonder where South Carolina ranks in these statistics. Our state came in on the low side, with 3.2 divorces per 1,000 residents, and that number has remained fairly consistent over the last several years. However, it is markedly lower than it was in 1990, when the divorce rate was 4.5 per 1,000.
All these statistics are likely confusing, and they raise questions about the often-repeated claim that half of all marriages end in divorce. The truth is a bit more complicated than that. According to the CDC, divorce rates for Americans are actually decreasing. The tricky part is that marriage rates are also decreasing. While the divorce rate (per 1,000 people) hovered at 4.0 in 2000 and by 2011 was at 3.6, it's important to note that the marriage rate was 8.2 in 2000 and fell to 6.2 by 2011.