Thursday, December 13, 2018

2010 Divorce Rates and Longer Term Trends


April 4, 2018  

On 8th December, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) launched the latest figures on divorces happening in 2010. Having just recently discussed the trends over recent years, and exactly what this tells us about the health of marital relationship as an organization, it deserves considering how these newest stats affect the bigger image.

The headline is that the number of divorces in 2010 increased; the first yearly increase in eight years (because 2003) and apparently out of action with the broader trend. The total number of divorces that occurred in 2010 came to 119,589 representing a 4.9% boost on 2009’s 113,949 divorces. Although, on the surface, this does seem to suggest an increase in the frequency of divorce the figure might possibly be described by other factors such as a bigger married population – more tellingly the divorce rate, that is the portion of the married population that got divorced, also increased from 10.5% in 2009 to 11.1% in 2010. So does this enhance the understanding that more marriages are failing?

Instead of an indicator of a broader shift in social attitudes it is most likely that the results for 2010 mark a glitch in a longer term decrease in divorce rates. This type of problem or spike in divorce rates has been seen at other points in recent history when the nation has actually been on the tail end of an economic crisis. In 1993 the rate increased following the economic downturn between 1990 and 1992. There appears to have been a lag between the worst of the financial troubles and a dive in divorces and it seems plausible that this could also mean causality; financial concerns are among the major causes of relationship breakdowns and the lag might be described by a) an initial response to gather’ to handle cash issues, b) the build up of subsequent pressures in the relationship then, c) as soon as the relationship has broken down, the time it takes for divorce process itself to finish.

In regards to the wider picture, the actual number of divorces has been significantly succumbing to the last decade although it is easy to attribute this to the matching fall in marriages and previous divorce patterns eroding the size of the married population in the first location. The fact that the divorce rate has been steadily falling too recommends that those who are wed are less most likely to divide.

More proof comes from the profile of those couples included. More divorces involved individuals aged 40-44 than other age group in 2010 however remarkably it appears that the age at which individuals divorce is creeping up (both men and women had 0.2 boosts to 44.2 and 41.7 respectively), albeit in line with the rise in the age at which people are marrying, whilst the duration of marriages has plateaued. Additionally, the highest rate of divorces for guys in 2010 was seen in the 30-34 years of age age rather than the 25-29 group in 2009 (females were unchanged). This may all recommend that marriages are beginning later on but are beginning to last a little longer.

In spite of the most recent figures informing us that 33% of marriages starting in 1995 had failed in the 15 year duration to 2010 (up from 22% of those in the exact same 15 year duration from 1970) the ONS is suggesting that the figures they have gotten so far might indicate that the rate of divorce before the 15th year for more recent marital relationships may be most likely to decline. Once again this adds a little bit more weight to the argument that pairs now seem to be waiting longer (cohabiting), being more mindful however ultimately, as an outcome, being more effective in their marriages.

In summary, it would appear probably that the increase in divorces in 2010 is a spike, as seen in previous durations of economic downturn, instead of a longer term trend. There is still proof in the age and duration of those getting separated to support the larger photo that couples are being more successful in marriage, however only time will tell.

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