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College Degree Gives Some Protection from Divorce

College Degree Gives Some Protection from DivorceNew research finds significant variation in first-time divorce rate when analyzed by race and education.

Investigators from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research (NCFMR) at Bowling Green State University also discovered evidence that a college degree has a protective effect against divorce among all races.

Researchers discovered the rate of first divorce in the U.S. in 2010 was 17.5 per 1,000 women 18 years old and older in a first marriage.

Scientists believe recent declines in the probability of divorce largely reflect an increase in marital stability among the more educated.

However, for women in a first marriage, the rate of first divorce is highest for those who received some education after high school, but have not earned a bachelor’s degree — 23 per 1,000.

Researchers found that women with no high school diploma (or GED) and women with a college degree presented the lowest rate of first divorce, with 14.4 and 14.2 per 1,000, respectively.

Broken down by race and ethnicity, the study found Asian women have the lowest first divorce rate at 10 divorces per 1,000 women in a first marriage.

The first divorce rates of white and Hispanic women were similar at 16.3 and 18.1, respectively.

African-American women have substantially higher rates of first divorce compared to all other racial and ethnic groups, at 30.4 divorces per 1,000 women in a first marriage.

“Contrary to the notion that women with a college degree face the lowest chances of divorce, those without a high school degree actually have similar low odds of divorce,” explained NCFMR Co-Director Susan Brown, Ph.D. “The relationship between education and divorce is not straightforward.”

However, according to Co-Director Wendy Manning, Ph.D., these patterns are consistent with patterns they are finding in other national data sources.

The association between education and the first-divorce rate held up even when race was factored in.

Among African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics, women with less than a high school degree had a similar divorce rate to women who graduated from college.

Among African-American and Hispanic women, the lowest first-divorce rates were found among women with less than a high school diploma.

“Among white women, there were few differences according to education, but those with a college degree experienced lower divorce rates than any other education group,” Manning said.

“These findings showcase that the association between education and divorce differs for racial and ethnic groups, and it is important to consider this variation.”

Source: Bowling Green State University

College Degree Gives Some Protection from Divorce

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). College Degree Gives Some Protection from Divorce. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 7 Nov 2011)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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