Russian Language Blog

Divorce In Russia Posted by on Oct 21, 2015 in Culture, History, News, Russian life, when in Russia

Most of the adult population in any country have at least two things in common: marriage and divorce. Though this is not a popular topic, it is nevertheless a significant part of Russian culture. Today we will compare the divorce rates between Russia and the United States. Please keep in mind that this is not in an attempt to prove that one country honors marriage more than the other, but merely to provide some context for comparison’s sake. Also, there are almost always discrepancies in data according to where it is obtained so don’t take these numbers as “gospel,” but look at the data as an indication and means for comparison. provided statistics for the Russian part of this blog. According to their site, Russia has more divorces than any other country. In fact, for every 9.2 marriages in 2011, there were 4.7 divorces per thousand in population. This means that about 51 percent of marriages end in divorce. The reasons  for divorce were also ranked in order of significance:  infidelity, poverty/finances, inability to compromise, and alcoholism/drug abuse.

While these statistics are a bit startling by themselves, let’s see how they compare to the United States. provided the divorce statistics for the United States. In the U.S. there seems to be an understanding that the divorce rate is about 50 percent – I’ve even heard a few jokes about it. In reality, the divorce rate hasn’t been nearly that high since 1991 when it was about 47 percent. Actually, the per capita divorce rate statistic in 2010-2011 stated that about 36 percent of marriages end in divorce. The divorce rate per thousand in total population was 3.6. In Russia this rate per thousand during the same year was 4.5. According to a study conducted by the National Fatherhood Institute and published at this site, the leading causes for divorce in the U.S. are as follows: lack of communication, finances, feeling constrained, trust, and expectations from each other.

To put both of these countries in comparison with others, listed the top countries for divorce in 2013. The countries with the highest divorce rates are as follows, along with their divorce rates per 1000 in total population:

1. Russia – 5

2. Belarus – 3.8

3. Ukraine – 3.6

4. Moldova – 3.5

5. Cayman Islands – 3.4

6. United States – 3.4

Mongolia had a 0.7 rate while Denmark, Switzerland, Spain, Australia, and Japan, all had a number less than 3.

The reasons for divorce are nearly as numerous as the amount of websites that provide data on the subject. Here are my takeaways from all of this:

Growing up in a single-parent home increases the chance that I’ll also get divorced. Having a child increases the chance that I’ll stay with my spouse. The fact that my spouse has been previously married increases the chance that he’ll divorce me. What does all of this mean? Absolutely nothing to me. Statistics, whether they are accurate or skewed, indicate “what has been.” They do not necessarily indicate “what will be.” They also do not take into account life-changing events that can ruin or strengthen a marriage. Even with the divorce rate around 50 percent in Russia, it is not and should not discourage people from marrying. It ought to make people more careful though. I would go so far as to say that if you enter into marriage with the attitude that there is only a 50/50 chance you’ll you’ll stay together, you’ll get what you ask for.


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About the Author: Jenya

Born in Russia, I spent the first twenty years of my life in Orenburg, Russia and Mogilev, Belarus. For the last eleven years, I've lived in New Hampshire and Michigan, US. While I continue to absorb and adapt to American culture, I am always thrilled to share my Russian heritage with those who find it interesting. Travel, photography and art play a special part in my life. Twitter: @iamnx2u


  1. Martin:

    Guess you would also need to have some sense of what percentage of people are co-habiting without being married. Obviously if such a couple splits up it doesn’t appear in any divorce statistics even if they have lived together for years. Does anyone know if co-habitation without being married is more common in Russia or the USA, and what sorts of numbers are involved?

  2. Roza:

    Good comments re divorce.

    Keep sending articles on verbs and their prefixes. I find this a good way to expand my vocabulary.

    I am looking for a good Russian-English/English/Russian dictionary. Any recommendations?

  3. Ross Stuckey:

    Thank you for a helpful piece on this subject. It is always helpful to get statstics even with the caveat that they could be skewed and your insights are helpful as well.

  4. Evan:

    I met a Russian women who stated accepting a gift from a divorced women is a bad omen. She made divorced women out to be bad people. She does not accept the fact that her parents are divorced. Is this part of Russian culture or do you think this something personal with her?