Divorce Rates Lower in States with Same-Sex Marriage

States that allow same-sex marriages have fewer splits, but the connection is complicated.

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Higher education levels are also associated with later marriage, another key factor that links to states' residents' politics and divorce rates alike. A 2009 Pew Research Center study authored by Cohn found that states with high shares of college-educated adults also have populations that tend to marry at an older age. The study found that residents of states with high shares of Democratic votes also tended to marry at older ages than states with low Democratic vote shares.

Census data also bear out this point. Of the 10 states with the highest median age for males at their first marriage, eight recognize or perform gay marriages, with median ages between 29.3 (Maryland) and 31.5 (D.C.). Iowa is the outlier here, with a median age of 26.9. Altogether, these statistics point to a relationship between older marriage age, low divorce rates, and liberal views on same-sex marriage.

Incidentally, same-sex couples who choose to marry also tend to be older than newly married, opposite-sex couples and same-sex married couples on the whole also tend to have higher levels of education than those in different-sex marriages, according to Gates. So does this mean that a slew of new marriages between older, well-educated, same-sex couples will drive down New York's already low divorce rate? Not so fast, says Gates. "There are 100 [different-sex] married couples for every 1 [same-sex] couple," Gates told U.S. News in an E-mail. "Even if all of the [same-sex] couples marry, at only 1 percent of married couples, there are just not enough [same-sex] couples to really alter broad statistics about marriage and divorce."

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