Michigan had 29,708 divorces in 2014 — the state’s lowest number since 1969 and the lowest rate based on population since 1968, according to data collected by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
That data, which goes back to 1900, shows Michigan had 2,435 divorces in 1900, a rate of 2.0 divorces per 1,000 residents compared to a rate of 6.0 in 2014.
Both the number and the rate climb steadily over the decades as Michigan’s population increased and divorce became more acceptable in society. Divorces dipped a little during The Great Depression, but spiked between 1944 and 1947 as World War II put a strain on marriages.
The divorce rate began to climb again in the late 1960s, one of the consequences of the social upheavals of that era. The numbers have been trending down again since the early 1990s.
Here are some of the highlights of the state data on divorce.
1. Michigan’s highest divorce rate occurred in 1946.
As soldiers returned from WWII and couples re-assessed their marriages, Michigan had 29,128 divorces, a rate of 10.2 per 1,000 people. That’s the only year the rate hit double digits.
The second-highest rate occurred in 1978, when the rate was 9.8 and there were 45,029 divorces. That’s 18 fewer divorces than the 45,047 in 1980, the year with the highest number of divorces. (Because of population growth, the 1980 divorce rate was 9.7 per 1,000 residents.)
Michigan adopted no-fault divorce in 1972, and between 1971 and 1972, there was a 12 percent increase in divorce filings.
2. One likely reason for fewer divorces: Fewer marriages.
In 1968, there were 21 marriages per 1,000 Michigan residents and 5.9 divorces. In 2014, there were 11.5 marriages per 1,000 residents and 6.0 divorces. So while the divorce rate was almost identical in those two years, the marriage rate was almost twice as high in 1968.
However, marriages have been trending up in the last five years. There were 53,528 marriages in Michigan in 2009 compared to 57,071 in 2014, a 6.6 percent increase.
3. Fewer divorces means fewer children involved in divorce.
There was an average of 0.88 child per Michigan divorce in 2014, which indicates many of the divorces involved marriages without children.
More significantly, 11.8 children per 1,000 Michigan children under age 18 had parents who divorced in 2014, the lowest rate since the 1960s. The actual number of children involved in a 2014 divorce: 26,269.
By comparison, more than 46,000 Michigan children had parents who divorced in 1980.
4. Two-thirds of Michigan divorces in 2014 involved first marriages.
About 67 percent of the divorces were first marriages for men and 66 percent were first marriages for women.
The remaining breakdown for men: 23 percent were second marriages, 6 percent were third marriages, 1.3 percent were fourth marriages and 0.4 percent had five or more marriages.
The remaining breakdown for women: 22.7 percent were second marriages, 6.3 percent were third marriages, 1.6 percent were fourth marriages and 0.6 percent had five or more marriages.
5. The average couple that divorced in 2014 was married for nine years and nine months.
Those without previous marriages had the longest duration before divorcing — 10 years and six months. Marriages between people with four or more previous marriages lasted an average of about six years.
6. In 2014, about 13 percent of Michigan residents between the ages of 20 and 64 are divorced compared to 51 percent who are married, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Of the remainder in that age group, 33 percent have never been married and 2 percent have been widowed.
Among those age 55 to 64, 65 percent are married, 19 percent are divorced and 10 percent have never been married.
7. Americans born in the 1940s are more likely to have had multiple marriages than those born in the 1970s.
In a March 2015 paper on trends in marriage, divorce and remarriage, the Census Bureau found that 63 percent of Americans in both age groups have been married once.
But among those born in the 1940s, 32 percent have been married two or more while 6 percent have never married. By comparison, 11 percent of those born in the 1970s — now age 45 to 36 — have two or more marriages and 27 percent have never married.
Of course, the older group — now age 66 to 75 — has had more time to marry. Another factor is they came at age when Americans married at a much younger age — and also were more likely to divorce.
8. College graduates are more likely to marry and less likely to divorce compared to those without a college degree.
About 64 percent of Americans with a bachelor’s degree have had one marriage, 15 percent have multiple marriages and 22 percent have never been married. By comparison, of those without a degree, 48 percent have been married once, 18 percent have had multiple marriages and 34 percent have never married, according to the 2015 Census analysis.
Likewise, higher income also correlates to the likelihood that someone will be married, and married just once.