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Feature Article

 

Trends in Marriage Rates in Missouri

Robert Hughes, Jr., Ph.D., Former Professor, Department of Human Development & Family Studies, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia


The pattern of marriage changes over time. Here are some brief answers to some common questions about trends in the rate and pattern of marriages in Missouri.
 

What is the trend in the marriage rate in Missouri?
Over the past 53 years (1950-2003) the marriage rate in Missouri has been quite stable. In 1950 the marriage rate was 8.7 marriages for every 1,000 Missourians. This climbed slowly for the next three decades reaching the highest rate in 1980 when there were 11.1 marriages for every 1,000 Missourians. The baby boom generation that entered young adulthood in the 1960s and 1970s probably accounts for the rise in the number of marriages during this period. Since 1980, the marriage rate has declined at slow pace to one of the lowest levels in the past 53 years. In 2003 there were 41,295 marriages in Missouri, which results in a rate of 7.2 marriages for every 1,000 Missourians. The marriage rate in Missouri is quite similar to the marriage rate across the United States.
 

What is the trend in the divorce rate in Missouri?
The number of divorces rose steadily between 1967 and 1979, but since 1981 the number of divorces has been declining. In 1950 there were 3.1 divorces for every 1,000 Missourians. Between 1950 and 1967 the divorce rate stayed about the same, and then began to rise in 1968. The peak rate was in 1979 and 1981 when the divorce rate reached a rate of 5.7 divorces for every 1,000 Missourians. This is roughly double the rate in the 1950s. Since the early 1980s the divorce has leveled off and slowly declined. In 2003 there were 3.9 divorces for every 1,000 Missourians, for a total of 22,166 divorces in 2003.
 

What is the average age of first marriages in Missouri?
For several decades the average age for first marriages has been rising in the United States. This trend is similar in Missouri. In 2003, the median age of first marriages was 24.0 years of age for women and 25.8 years of age for men.
 

What is the length of marriage before divorce in Missouri?
In 2003, there were 22,166 divorces in Missouri. Of those couples divorcing the median length of their marriages was about 8 years. In 2003, 23% of divorces occurred among couples who had been married 3 years or less, 33% of divorces occurred among couples who had been married between 4 and 9 years. Twenty-five percent of the Missouri divorces in 2003 were granted to couples who had been married between 10 and 19 years. Fourteen percent of divorces occurred among couples who had been together over 20 years.
 

What percentage of marriages are remarriages in Missouri?
About 34% of women and 35% of men who were married in 2000 in Missouri had been previously married and divorced. Another 3% were widowed. About 27% of the marriages in 2003 in Missouri were a remarriage for both partners.
 

 

References:
Kreider, R. M. (2005). Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2001, Table 6. Current Population Reports, P70-97. Washington, D. C.: U.S. Census Bureau.
 

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. 2003. Missouri Vital Statistics 2003, Graphs F, G, Tables 30, 32, 38. Available at: http://www.dhss.mo.gov/VitalStatistics.

 

 

Last Updated 05/12/2009

 


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