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Marriage and Divorce Rates, Unmarried Birth Percent in Massachusetts

Both the marriage and divorce rates in Massachusetts are among the lowest in the country, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. Over the past decade, the state’s marriage rate has gradually decreased, from 6.2 percent in 2005 to 5.6 percent in 2014. The divorce rate, on the other hand, has increased, from 2.2 percent to 2.7 percent over that same period.

Despite the decreasing rate of marriage in the state, the rate of births to unmarried mothers is also among the nation’s lowest, at 33.2 percent in 2014. That rate puts Massachusetts just above the five states with the lowest unmarried birth rates: Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Washington and Minnesota. The rate of unmarried births in those states ranged from 8.6 percent to 32.3 percent in 2014. Among the five states with the nation’s highest unmarried birth rates, Mississippi ranked first with 54 percent in 2014, followed by Louisiana, New Mexico, Florida and South Carolina.

Massachusetts ranked 42nd in the nation for births to unmarried mothers with a rate well below the national average of 40.3 percent. The rate of unmarried births in the state has increased, however, from 30 percent in 2005.

Teen Unmarried Birth Rates

The rate of births to teen mothers in Massachusetts is extremely low; in fact, the state ranks lowest in the nation at just 10.6 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19 for 2014. The nation’s highest rate of teen births is in Arkansas, with 39.5 births per 1,000 for the same year.

Over the past two decades, teen birth rates have declined significantly across the country. In 2014, the national average for teen births was 24.2 per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nationwide, almost 89 percent of births to teen mothers occurred outside of marriage.

The national teen birth rate has been on the decline for the past two decades and dropped a full 9 percent just between 2013 and 2014. In 1991, the rate stood at nearly 62 births per 1,000 teens. However, the rate remains higher than in a number of other developed countries.

Divorces Increase in Massachusetts

Although Massachusetts has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country, the rate has risen slightly over the past decade. Notably, the rate dropped to just 2 percent in 2008. The drop may be attributable in part to the national economic recession that left some couples financially unable to divorce, although the data is unclear. Likewise, the slight increase in the years after 2008 could be due, at least in part, to couples waiting out the financial downturn before filing divorce papers.

Rates of unmarried births, marriages and divorces vary over time in different geographic areas, and they can be affected by a variety of external factors — including the overall economy, unemployment, and the cost of education, healthcare and housing. But relationships are also complex, and each one is unique. If you’re considering marriage or divorce, an experienced family law attorney can provide assistance. For a no-cost consultation, please contact Infinity Law Group.


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