Occupation and Divorce

If you marry a flight attendant are you more likely to divorce than if you marry a software developer? A recent report on occupation and divorce asks that very question.

The Study analyzed data from the 2015 American Community Survey, and, based on the number of people in a particular occupation who had married at least once, calculated the percentage of people who divorced.

Librarians have about a 28% chance of divorce, while phlebotomist have approximately a 46% chance.

Another un-surprising part of the study, people with less income are less likely to be married in the first place, and more likely to be divorced.

About 25% of “poor” adults aged 18 to 55 are currently married, compared to 39% of working-class adults, and 56% of middle- and upper-class adults (above the 50th percentile).

What the report found is that there is a divorce rate of at least 48.8% in the occupations “most likely” to experience divorce; the divorce rate is under 22% in the 10 occupations “least likely” to be subject to divorce.

Divorce in Florida

I’ve written about the correlation between occupation and divorce before. The numbers don’t paint the whole picture. If a person divorced and remarried by the time of the Census, they would be counted as married.

There are various reasons cited in the study for the fault behind the divorce rate. It could be that spouses in some jobs are just quicker to jump into the next marriage than others.

The data on occupation and divorce doesn’t reveal whether it’s the nature of the jobs that lead to divorce, or if people prone to unstable relationships are drawn to certain professions.

Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. The only ground you need to file for divorce in Florida is to prove your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

But is no fault divorce the reason the for a higher divorce rate among bartenders than optometrists? Some people think so, and want to return to the old “fault” system to promote families.

Occupation as Predictor of Divorce

So, what are the occupations with the highest divorce rates:

  • Telemarketers
  • Bartenders
  • Flight Attendants

The occupations among the lowest divorce rates:

  • Actuaries
  • Physical Therapists
  • Chemical Engineers

Keep in mind that correlation is not causation. No one knows which bartenders are likely to stay married or divorced, nor give advice on choosing a profession based on the divorce rate.

Nor can the report tell you about those who choose to become bartenders may be less likely to have stable marriages for reasons other than their choice of profession.

Rolling machine operators seem to be in the same category today more because of their declining employment prospects than because of increased temptations to stray.

One question that does not command enough attention is why the correlation between relationship stability and employment prospects is so strong.

Commitment to an unstable partner — someone who runs up the credit card bills, incurs large health care expenses, or needs to be bailed out of jail — can diminish family savings, a source of peril.

The report is available here.