There's a commonly quoted statistic that "half" (or 50%) of all
marriages end in divorce.
The reality, though, is actually rather complicated. It's difficult
to come up with a single statistic to describe the divorce rate of the
entire population. Among the oldest segments of the U.S. population,
the divorce rate has been relatively low. Among the younger segments
of the population, the divorce rate is much higher but difficult to
precisely quantify because there are many currently married couples
that aren't divorced yet but eventually will be divorced.
Cecil Adams, of the well-known "Straight Dope" newspaper column and
web site, has a good summary of the situation on Straightdope:
"Is it true half of all marriages end in divorce?"
Adams cites statistics on this subject from the U.S. Census Bureau:
1996 Already Divorced Projected to eventually
Age (M/F) (M/F)
25 5/12 53/52
30 17/17 50/47
35 27/26 49/44
40 34/37 49/48
45 41/42 49/48
50 40/42 45/46
55 38/38 41/40
60 34/31 36/32
In other words, for a given age (e.g., 25), we see the percentage
already divorced (5% for males, 12% for females) and the percentage
that the Census Bureau predicts will eventually be divorced (53% for
males, 52% for females).
Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 1996" (Current
Population Reports, February 2002), available at
[PDF format, so the Adobe Acrobat Reader is required. If you don't
have that, please visit Adobe's web site:
The Centers for Disease Control also did a recent study that has many
useful statistics. See:
"43 Percent of First Marriages Break Up Within 15 Years," hosted by CDC.gov
PDF format report:
"marriages end in divorce," census
"marriages end in divorce", site:gov
I hope this helps.