The occupations with the highest and lowest divorce rates in the US

Life as Laboratory
Life as Laboratory

Much ink has been spilled over divorce rates in the United States: they’re rising; they’re falling; they’ve barely changed in the past 50 years. In reality, while Americans are getting married later, the 50% divorce rate statistic is a myth. Divorce rates vary by factors like race, education level, and employment status, and now we have a pretty good picture of how they vary by occupation.

Statistician Nathan Yau, reporting for Flowing Data, recently aggregated divorce data from the US Census Bureau’s 5-Year American Community Survey from 2015, which covers a broad range of social, economic, and demographic topics and includes data on roughly 500 occupations. For each occupation, Yau calculated a divorce rate based on the percentage of people who divorced out of those who married at least once.

Among his findings: Actuaries, whose job is to predict and manage risk and uncertainty, fittingly have the lowest divorce rate, at 17%. If you’re more of a gambler, you might roll the dice with marriage to a casino manager—gaming managers have the highest divorce rate, at nearly 53%.

As Yau observes, higher-salary professions like surgeons and scientists tend to have lower divorce rates than lower-salary professions, like phone operators and small-engine mechanics. But as he notes, correlation is not causation.

“If someone who is already a physician, quits and takes a job as a bartender or telemarketer, it doesn’t mean their chances of divorce changes. It probably says more about the person than anything else,” he writes. “Similarly, those with certain occupations tend to be from similar demographics, which then factors into how the individuals live their lives. But still—interesting. I’m still amused that actuaries ended up with the lowest rate.”

In the charts below, the divorce rate refers to the percentage, within a given occupation or industry, of people who divorced out of those who were married at least once. For example, 17% of actuaries who have been married at least once have divorced.

The 20 occupations with the lowest divorce rates in the US

Occupation Divorce rate
Actuaries 17%
Physical Scientists 18.9
Medical Scientists, and Life Scientists 19.6
Clergy 19.8
Software developers, applications and systems software 20.3
Physical Therapists 20.7
Optometrists 20.8
Chemical Engineers 21.1
Directors, Religious Activities and Education 21.3
Physicians and Surgeons 21.8
Biomedical and agricultural engineers 22
Podiatrists 22.4
Dentists 22.5
Pharmacists 22.6
Military Enlisted Tactical Operations and Air/Weapons Specialists and Crew Members 23
Speech Language Pathologists 23.2
Natural science managers 23.7
Biological Scientists 23.7
Veterinarians 23.9
Graders and Sorters, Agricultural Products 24

The 20 occupations with the highest divorce rates in the US

Profession Divorce rate
Gaming managers 52.9%
Bartenders 52.7
Flight Attendants 50.5
Gaming Services Workers 50.3
Rolling Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, metal and Plastic 50.1
Switchboard Operators, Including Answering Service 49.7
Extruding and Drawing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic 49.6
Telemarketers 49.2
Textile Knitting and Weaving Machine Operators 48.9
Extruding, Forming, Pressing, and Compacting Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders 48.8
Telephone Operators 47.8
Massage therapists 47.8
Gaming Cage Workers 47.3
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses 47
First-Line Supervisors of Correctional Officers 46.9
Dancers and Choreographers 46.8
Dispatchers 46.6
Textile Winding, Twisting, and Drawing Out Machine Operators 46.5
Ambulance Drivers and Attendants, Except Emergency Medical Technicians 46.3
Small Engine Mechanics 46.2

Average divorce rate by industry, lowest to highest:

Industry Average divorce rate
Architecture and Engineering 27.538%
Computers and Mathematics 27.661
Military 28.325
Life, Physical, and Social Science 28.494
Education and Library 30.127
Healthcare 31.651
Community and Social Services 32.575
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry 33.085
Finance 33.891
Legal 35.075
Arts and Entertainment 35.283
Management 35.75
Business Operations 36.042
Construction and Extraction 36.577
Extraction Workers 37.36
Food Preparation and Serving 37.475
Building and Grounds Cleaning 37.866
Sales 38.261
Production 38.985
Healthcare Support 39.245
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Workers 39.284
Personal Care and Service 39.57
Protective Services 40.075
Transportation and Material Moving 40.583
Office and Administrative Support 40.614

For a complete list of divorce rates for each of the roughly 500 occupations tracked by the Census Bureau survey, see Yau’s complete table here.

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