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Divorce rate down, number of marriages up in Iowa in 2012

(Radio Iowa) – About 6700 Iowa couples sought a divorce last year — the lowest divorce rate in the state since 1968.

Susan Stewart is an Iowa State University sociology professor who analyzes the demographics of American families.

“Since the recession of the late 2000s, we’ve seen a decline in the divorce rate. We’ve also seen a decline in the marriage rate and a decline in the fertility rate,” Stewart says. “…When economic times are hard or challenging, then people tend to put their family transitions kind of on hold and getting divorced is one of them because getting divorced is really expensive.”

The average age of newlyweds has never been higher either. Nationally, the average age of a man who’s marrying for the first time is 28 and 26 is the average age of a woman entering a first marriage.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen now that the economy’s seems like it’s starting to recover,” Stewart says. “We don’t know if marriage and divorce and child-bearing are going to continue their decline, kind of like in a lot of European countries.”

There were more than three times as many marriages as divorces in Iowa in 2012. Almost 20,000 marriages were performed in Iowa last year for couples of the opposite sex. At least 1200 same-sex couples were married in Iowa in 2012.