Divorce Rates Lower in Same-Sex Marriage States

Now that New York has legalized gay marriage, many are looking to see the changes this will have on our society, and whether other states will join in. However, one fact that many may not have guessed at has now surfaced: Apparently states who support gay marriage also tend to have a lower divorce rate overall. What exactly ties the two statistics together, if anything? Higher education? Greater economic affluence? Or are they related at all?

From The U.S. News and World Report:

On July 24, New York will join the league of states that allow gay marriage. Meanwhile, demographic data show that this group is already united in another significant way: lower-than-average divorce rates. Interesting, but does this mean that same-sex marriages in New York will last longer? Are the two characteristics even related? Perhaps, as data show that factors like education level and marriage age tend to be related to both a state’s divorce rate and its stance on same-sex marriage.

According to provisional data from the Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control’s National Vital Statistics System, 5 of the 10 states, plus the District of Columbia, with the lowest divorce rates per thousand people (of the 44 states, plus D.C., that had available data) are also among the nine jurisdictions (a group that includes eight states and the District of Columbia) that currently perform or recognize gay marriages. Of course, states with more marriages naturally have more chances for divorce. But the trend also holds up when one looks at divorces as a share of marriages. In states that recognize or perform gay marriages, the number of divorces in 2009 was 41.2 percent of the number of marriages. In the 36 other states for which 2009 data are available, it was 50.3 percent. Remove the outlier Nevada, the state with by far the lowest divorce rate by this metric (16.3 percent), likely due in part to Las Vegas’s status as a wedding hotspot for out-of-state couples who may get married there but divorced elsewhere, and the figure jumps to 53.2 percent.

What do you think—what do these statistics tell us?

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