A recent poll by the Gallup organization found that the majority of U.S. adults, regardless of age, religiosity or marital status, now view divorce as a morally acceptable option. Americans are coming to see both marriage and divorce in a more formalistic, legal way than they used to, the analysis concluded. This is a trend that continues even though the divorce rate is at its lowest point in decades.
According to Gallup, the percentage of U.S. adults who agreed with a statement saying divorce is “morally acceptable” topped 70 percent for the first time in the poll’s history. This year, Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs poll recorded 73 percent as agreeing with that statement.
Meanwhile, researchers at Bowling Green State University, which measures marriage and divorce rates, said the U.S. divorce rate has dropped to its lowest point in 35 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reports that the divorce rate is at a multi-decade low.
Gallup reports that the proportion of American adults who find divorce to be morally acceptable has grown by 14 percentage points since 2001.
Americans have basically supported divorce since 1954
In 1954, Gallup’s question was phrased a bit differently. Instead of asking if divorce was “morally acceptable,” the polling company asked Americans if they “believe in” divorce. It may surprise you too learn that 53 percent of Americans said they believed in divorce.
Fast forward to 2001, when Gallup first asked about divorce’s morality, and 59 percent agreed that it was an acceptable choice.
The group with the highest percentage of people believing that divorce is morally acceptable, as captured by Gallup, was the non-religious (85 percent). Yet those with the lowest percentage of people agreeing with the statement, people who identified as “very religious,” still turned in a majority.
Here are Gallup’s results broken down by religiosity, age and marital status:
- Non-religious: 85 percent
- Somewhat religious: 68 percent
- Very religious: 51 percent
- Aged 18-34: 76 percent
- Aged 35-54: 69 percent
- Aged 55 and older: 71 percent
- Married: 70 percent
- Never married/cohabitating: 76 percent
- Separated or divorced: 73 percent
As you can see, agreement that divorce is a morally acceptable option has been growing, even since 2001. For those who are considering divorce, it’s good to know there is little to fear in terms of social stigma. It’s just one more reason to take the steps that are right for you.