Revealed: South Africa has one of the lowest divorce rates worldwide


From the 1970s shift to a 'soul-mate' model of marriage that propelled divorce rates in the US, to the end of the Soviet Union which saw a rise in divorce in Russia, history has shown that during times of significant change, marriages tend to suffer. 

With the coronavirus pandemic causing unprecedented changes worldwide, including spikes in divorce, you may be wondering whether or not your marriage will withstand the crises. 

But according to one recently conducted study analysis, when talking divorce, location matters. 

Are the odds in your favour? 

Looking at the number of cases occurring from 2007 to 2017 in 87 countries, one site has taken to ranking countries according to the proportion of their divorced adult population. 

Based on their findings, here's a look at where in the world marriage has been found most likely to end in divorce. 

From Russia to the US: The highest rates of divorce worldwide

Placing first in the world, Russia has been found to have a divorce rate of 1 in every 154 marriages. The survey points to "the marital freedom sparked by the end of the Soviet Union" as one of the reasons Russia claims the top spot. 

Belarus and the United States follow Russia as the top three countries with the highest divorce rates. 

South Africa ranks 83rd

We have a noted history of being 'the worst in the world' for many socio-economic factors, but divorce is not one of them, confirms the study, which saw South Africa rank 83rd. 

And according to one Parent24 poll, SA marriages and partnerships remain positive, even during these uncertain times. We asked South African couples how they were handling being locked in with each other. 

couple poll

For 50% of those polled, the lockdown presents a welcomed opportunity for couple time, while 17% wondered "How soon can I file for divorce?" 

African countries with the highest rate of divorce are Jordan (5th), Libya (16th) and Egypt (33rd). 

Luck of the Irish? 

In countries like  Ireland and Chile, divorce has only recently been legalised which may account for these countries' low rankings. 

Ireland ranks in 81st place with divorce legalised in 1995 and still contingent on conservative laws, like five years of separation.

Chile ranks last in the index with divorce being legalised only as recent as 2004. 

Here's a look at the complete list of 87 countries: 


Lockdown couples: how are you handling being locked in with each other? Any tips for struggling couples? 

Chat back:

Share your story with Parent24. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

WhatsApp: Send messages and voicenotes to 066 010 0325

Email: Share your story with us via email at chatback @

Sign up for Parent24's newsletters.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24