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
Maldives5.522020523,787
Kazakhstan4.6202119,397,998
Russia3.92020144,713,314
Belgium3.7202011,655,930
Belarus3.720209,534,954
Moldova3.320203,272,996
China3.220181,425,887,337
Cuba2.9201911,212,191
Ukraine2.88202039,701,739
United States2.72020338,289,857
Denmark2.720205,882,261
Lithuania2.720202,750,055
Latvia2.720201,850,651
Cyprus2.620191,251,488
Liechtenstein2.6202039,327
San Marino2.6201733,660
Sweden2.5201910,549,347
Libya2.520086,812,341
Finland2.420195,540,745
Egypt2.32019110,990,103
Taiwan2.3201823,893,394
Costa Rica2.320205,180,829
Luxembourg2.32020647,599
Iran2.1201988,550,570
South Korea2.1202051,815,810
Canada2.1200838,454,327
Saudi Arabia2.1202036,408,820
Georgia2.120203,744,385
Albania2.120192,842,321
Czech Republic2202010,493,986
Portugal2201810,270,865
Switzerland220168,740,472
Trinidad And Tobago220161,531,044
France1.9201664,626,628
Spain1.9201947,558,630
Australia1.9201926,177,413
Norway1.920195,434,319
Estonia1.920201,326,062
Bermuda1.9201964,184
Malaysia1.8201933,938,221
Greece1.8201710,384,971
Israel1.820199,038,309
Iceland1.82010372,899
Japan1.72019123,951,692
Germany1.7202083,369,843
United Kingdom1.7201767,508,936
Poland1.7201939,857,145
Netherlands1.7201917,564,014
Austria1.720208,939,617
Singapore1.720205,975,689
Slovakia1.720195,643,453
New Zealand1.720195,185,288
Seychelles1.72020107,118
Monaco1.7202036,469
Turkey1.6202085,341,241
Algeria1.6201344,903,225
Romania1.6201919,659,267
Jordan1.6202011,285,869
Lebanon1.620075,489,739
Mauritius1.620201,299,469
Hungary1.520209,967,308
Croatia1.520194,030,358
Brazil1.42009215,313,498
Thailand1.4200571,697,030
Italy1.4201959,037,474
Azerbaijan1.4202010,358,074
Tajikistan1.420199,952,787
Kyrgyzstan1.420206,630,623
Suriname1.42019618,040
Brunei1.42020449,002
Mexico1.32019127,504,125
Syria1.3200622,125,249
Serbia1.320207,221,365
Bulgaria1.320206,781,953
Kuwait1.320204,268,873
Montenegro1.32020627,082
Dominican Republic1.2202011,228,821
Jamaica1.220182,827,377
Tonga1.22003106,858
Ecuador1.1200618,001,000
Armenia1.120202,780,469
Grenada1.12001125,438
Mongolia120203,398,366
Bahamas12007409,984
Dominica1201772,737
Uruguay0.920193,422,794
Uzbekistan0.8202034,627,652
Nicaragua0.820056,948,392
El Salvador0.820066,336,392
Bosnia And Herzegovina0.820193,233,526
Slovenia0.820202,119,844
North Macedonia0.820202,093,599
Colombia0.7200751,874,024
Venezuela0.7201728,301,696
Chile0.7200919,603,733
United Arab Emirates0.720059,441,129
Ireland0.720175,023,109
Panama0.720204,408,581
Qatar0.720192,695,122
Malta0.72019533,286
Saint Lucia0.72004179,857
South Africa0.6200959,893,885
Peru0.5201934,049,588
Saint Vincent And the Grenadines0.42017103,948
Vietnam0.2202098,186,856
Guatemala0.2202017,843,908
Sri Lanka0.15--21,832,143

Divorce Rates by Country 2022

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