Divorce Rates by Country 2022

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Marriage is an event that bonds two (or, rarely, more) people together for life, creating a legal, cultural, and/or religious connection between them that impacts everything from their name and address to their future family. Marriage is a cultural universal, an institution so fundamental to the human experience that there are no known examples of a society that functions without it. People marry for many reasons, including love, companionship, the desire to build a family, financial stability, social status, and religious fulfillment, and in nearly every case the marriage is considered a watershed event in the participants’ lives.

Divorce and its causes

Sometimes, however, the bonds of marriage break. According to the United States' National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 4-5 million people get married every year in the U.S. ... and approximately 42-53% of those marriages eventually end in divorce.

Divorce has many possible causes, including infidelity, financial problems, loss of intimacy, substance abuse, domestic abuse, lack of commitment, moral or religious differences, and simply growing apart. Whatever the reason, divorce is not a uniquely American scenario. Divorce happens all over the world—in fact, it may be every bit as universal as marriage itself.

How to calculate divorce rate

Divorce rates can be calculated multiple ways, but one of the simplest methods utilizes census data. Dividing the number of divorces in a given year by total population yields the crude divorce rate. This metric is typically expressed as a number per 1000 people. For example, if 100,000 people lived in a nation and there were 500 divorces in a year, the divorce rate would be five divorces per 1,000 residents.

Top 13 Countries with the Highest Divorce Rates (annually, per 1000 people)*

*Data is most recent available per country. 2018-China; 2019-Cuba; all others 2020-21

  1. Maldives - 5.52
  2. Kazakhstan - 4.6
  3. Russia - 3.9
  4. Belarus (tie) - 3.7
  5. Belgium (tie) - 3.7
  6. Moldova - 3.3
  7. China - 3.2
  8. Cuba - 2.9
  9. Ukraine - 2.88
  10. Denmark (tie) - 2.7
  11. Latvia (tie) - 2.7
  12. Lithuania (tie) - 2.7
  13. United States (tie) - 2.7

According to data from the United Nations and other sources, the country with the highest divorce rate in the world in 2020 was the Maldives, which recorded 2984 divorces against a population of 540,544, resulting in a divorce rate of 5.52 per 1000 people. This is actually a notable step down from the country's widely publicized rate of 10.97 in 2002, which earned the country a Guinness World Record.

Why are divorces so frequent in the Maldives? One common explanation is that the island nation's citizens frown upon physical relations outside of marriage, but both marriages and divorces are quite easy to obtain, so they marry quickly and divorce with minimal complication if the relationship fails. What's more, a cultural shift is currently taking place in the Maldives, with women becoming more empowered and more able to fend for themselves financially, enabling them to leave marriages that aren't working.

The former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan endured the second-highest divorce rate in the world in 2020, with 4.6 divorces for every 1000 people. Close behind are Russia (3.9), Belgium (3.7), and Belarus (3.7). The United States lands in a four-way tie for spots 9-12 on the list, with an annual divorce rate of 2.7 per 1000 people. In the U.S., Nevada has the highest divorce rate of any state at 14%.

The effect of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic on divorce rates

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21 had a remarkable impact on nearly every aspect of everyday life, including rates of marriage and divorce. Overall, marriage rates dropped significantly in 2020, largely due to pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions on public gatherings. What's more, divorce rates also dropped significantly, from .2 to .4 points in most cases, in nearly every country in the world.

For example, Slovenia's divorce rate dropped from 1.2 in 2019 to .8 in 2020. Similarly, Hungary dropped from 1.8 to 1.5, Seychelles went from 1.9 to 1.7, and the Dominican Republic plummeted from 2.5 to 1.2. Oddly, Denmark, considered one of the top 10 countries to live in, reversed the trend and saw its divorce rate leap from 1.8 to 2.7 during the 2020 pandemic.

Top 12 Countries with the Lowest Divorce Rates (annually, per 1000 people)*

*Data is most recent available per country, typically between 2017-2020.

  1. Sri Lanka - .15
  2. Guatemala (tie) - .20
  3. Vietnam (tie) - .20
  4. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - .40
  5. Peru - .50
  6. South Africa - .60
  7. Chile (tie) - .70
  8. Colombia (tie) - .70
  9. Ireland (tie) - .70
  10. Malta (tie) - .70
  11. Panama (tie) - .70
  12. Qatar (tie) - .70
  13. Saint Lucia (tie) - .70
  14. United Arab Emirates (tie) - .70
  15. Venezuela (tie) - .70

On the other side of the coin, several nations have quite low divorce rates. Based upon available data, the country with the lowest divorce rate in the world is Sri Lanka, with a divorce rate of 0.15 divorces per 1,000 residents. Vietnam and Guatemala have the next lowest rate at 0.2 divorces per every 1,000 residents. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Peru, and South Africa rank 4th through 6th, then a nine-way tie at .70/1000 creates a logjam that soaks up spots 7-15.

It should be noted that a low divorce rate does not necessarily mean that a country's citizens have blissful, thriving marriages. In some countries, divorces may be more difficult to legally obtain, or wives may be unable to leave a bad marriage because they fear for their safety, or for their children's safety, or because they lack the financial wherewithal (or societal opportunity) to support the family on their own. In fact, if one takes the top 6 countries with the lowest divorce rates and tracks their scores on the United Nations' 2019 Gender Inequality Index (GII), they rank as follows:

Gender Inequality Index (GNI) of top 6 countries with the lowest divorce rates (out of 162 countries, lower GNI is better):

  • Sri Lanka - .401 (90th place)
  • Guatemala - .479 (119th place)
  • Vietnam - .296 (65th place)
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - not rated
  • Peru - .395 (87th place)
  • South Africa - .406 (93rd place)

By comparison, all but three of the top 13 countries with the highest divorce rates placed within the top 50 in terms of gender equality. In light of these data, it is important to resist drawing conclusions about married life in a given country based upon its divorce rate alone.

Divorce rate and its connection to marriage rate

In fact, divorce rate on its own cannot even give a clear idea of how frequent divorces are in a given country. This is because the divorce rate is a measure of divorces as a percentage of the total population, not in relation to the total number of marriages. Why does this matter? Because the United States' 2019's rate of 2.7 new divorces per 1000 people would be quite impressive if all 1000 of those people were married, but shockingly worrisome if only 50 out of 1000 were married. For that reason, divorce rates are often viewed alongside a country's overall marriage rate. They may even be combined to produce a rough marriage/divorce ratio or percentage.

For example, if one matches the United States' 2019's rate of 2.7 new divorces per 1000 people to the number of marriages that took place in 2019—6.1 per 1000 people—it works out to one new divorce for every 2.26 new marriages, a divorce percentage of just over 44%. These are arguably more insightful and relatable numbers than "2.7 divorces per 1000 people." Of course, even this calculation is not entirely precise—divorce rates should ideally be compared to the marriage rates from the year each dissolving marriage was initially created, not the current year. However, it is nonetheless a useful (and much easier to compute) ballpark estimate for times when more granular data is unavailable.

Divorce Rates by Country 2022

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Divorce Rates by Country 2022

Country Number of Divorces per 1,000 Population Year of Data 2022 Population
Maldives5.522020540,985
Kazakhstan4.6202119,205,043
Russia3.92020145,805,947
Belgium3.7202011,668,278
Belarus3.720209,432,800
Moldova3.320204,013,171
China3.220181,448,471,400
Cuba2.9201911,305,652
Ukraine2.88202043,192,122
United States2.72020334,805,269
Denmark2.720205,834,950
Lithuania2.720202,661,708
Latvia2.720201,848,837
Cyprus2.620191,223,387
Liechtenstein2.6202038,387
San Marino2.6201734,085
Sweden2.5201910,218,971
Libya2.520087,040,745
Finland2.420195,554,960
Egypt2.32019106,156,692
Taiwan2.3201823,888,595
Costa Rica2.320205,182,354
Luxembourg2.32020642,371
Iran2.1201986,022,837
South Korea2.1202051,329,899
Canada2.1200838,388,419
Saudi Arabia2.1202035,844,909
Georgia2.120203,968,738
Albania2.120192,866,374
Czech Republic2202010,736,784
Portugal2201810,140,570
Switzerland220168,773,637
Trinidad And Tobago220161,406,585
France1.9201665,584,518
Spain1.9201946,719,142
Australia1.9201926,068,792
Norway1.920195,511,370
Estonia1.920201,321,910
Bermuda1.9201961,939
Malaysia1.8201933,181,072
Greece1.8201710,316,637
Israel1.820198,922,892
Iceland1.82010345,393
Japan1.72019125,584,838
Germany1.7202083,883,596
United Kingdom1.7201768,497,907
Poland1.7201937,739,785
Netherlands1.7201917,211,447
Austria1.720209,066,710
Singapore1.720205,943,546
Slovakia1.720195,460,193
New Zealand1.720194,898,203
Seychelles1.7202099,426
Monaco1.7202039,783
Turkey1.6202085,561,976
Algeria1.6201345,350,148
Romania1.6201919,031,335
Jordan1.6202010,300,869
Lebanon1.620076,684,849
Mauritius1.620201,274,727
Hungary1.520209,606,259
Croatia1.520194,059,286
Brazil1.42009215,353,593
Thailand1.4200570,078,203
Italy1.4201960,262,770
Azerbaijan1.4202010,300,205
Tajikistan1.420199,957,464
Kyrgyzstan1.420206,728,271
Suriname1.42019596,831
Brunei1.42020445,431
Mexico1.32019131,562,772
Syria1.3200619,364,809
Serbia1.320208,653,016
Bulgaria1.320206,844,597
Kuwait1.320204,380,326
Montenegro1.32020627,950
Dominican Republic1.2202011,056,370
Jamaica1.220182,985,094
Tonga1.22003107,749
Ecuador1.1200618,113,361
Armenia1.120202,971,966
Grenada1.12001113,475
Mongolia120203,378,078
Bahamas12007400,516
Dominica1201772,344
Uruguay0.920193,496,016
Uzbekistan0.8202034,382,084
Nicaragua0.820056,779,100
El Salvador0.820066,550,389
Bosnia And Herzegovina0.820193,249,317
North Macedonia0.820202,081,304
Slovenia0.820202,078,034
Colombia0.7200751,512,762
Venezuela0.7201729,266,991
Chile0.7200919,250,195
United Arab Emirates0.7200510,081,785
Ireland0.720175,020,199
Panama0.720204,446,964
Qatar0.720192,979,915
Malta0.72019444,033
Saint Lucia0.72004185,113
South Africa0.6200960,756,135
Peru0.5201933,684,208
Saint Vincent And the Grenadines0.42017111,551
Vietnam0.2202098,953,541
Guatemala0.2202018,584,039
Sri Lanka0.15--21,575,842

Divorce Rates by Country 2022

Sources