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
|Medical Scientists, and Life Scientists||19.6|
|Software developers, applications and systems software||20.3|
|Directors, Religious Activities and Education||21.3|
|Physicians and Surgeons||21.8|
|Biomedical and agricultural engineers||22|
|Military Enlisted Tactical Operations and Air/Weapons Specialists and Crew Members||23|
|Speech Language Pathologists||23.2|
|Natural science managers||23.7|
|Graders and Sorters, Agricultural Products||24|
The 20 occupations with the highest divorce rates in the US
|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|
|Textile Knitting and Weaving Machine Operators||48.9|
|Extruding, Forming, Pressing, and Compacting Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders||48.8|
|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|
|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|
|Life, Physical, and Social Science||28.494|
|Education and Library||30.127|
|Community and Social Services||32.575|
|Farming, Fishing, and Forestry||33.085|
|Arts and Entertainment||35.283|
|Construction and Extraction||36.577|
|Food Preparation and Serving||37.475|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning||37.866|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Workers||39.284|
|Personal Care and Service||39.57|
|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.