Thursday, December 13, 2018

2010 Divorce Rates and Longer Term Trends


April 7, 2018  

On 8th December, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) launched the most recent figures on divorces occurring in 2010. Having actually recently discussed the patterns over current years, and what this informs us about the health of marriage as an institution, it deserves considering how these latest stats affect the bigger image.

The headline is that the number of divorces in 2010 rose; the very first annual rise in 8 years (considering that 2003) and apparently out of step with the wider pattern. The total number of divorces that took place in 2010 concerned 119,589 representing a 4.9% boost on 2009’s 113,949 divorces. Although, on the surface area, this does seem to suggest a rise in the occurrence of divorce the figure could possibly be discussed by other elements such as a bigger married population – more tellingly the divorce rate, that is the percentage of the married population that got divorced, also increased from 10.5% in 2009 to 11.1% in 2010. So does this reinforce the perception that more marriages are stopping working?

Rather than an indicator of a more comprehensive shift in societal attitudes it is most likely that the outcomes for 2010 mark a problem in a longer term decline in divorce rates. This type of glitch or spike in divorce rates has been seen at other points in current history when the nation has actually been on the tail end of an economic downturn. In 1993 the rate surged following the recession in between 1990 and 1992. There appears to have actually been a lag between the worst of the monetary difficulties and a dive in divorces and it seems plausible that this could likewise hint at causality; financial issues are one of the significant causes of relationship breakdowns and the lag might be explained by a) an initial response to gather’ to deal with cash problems, b) the build up of subsequent pressures in the relationship and then, c) once the relationship has broken down, the time it considers divorce procedure itself to finish.

In terms of the broader photo, the actual variety of divorces has been visibly falling for the last decade although it is simple to associate this to the matching fall in marriages and previous divorce trends eroding the size of the married population in the first place. That the divorce rate has been gradually falling too suggests that those who are married are less likely to split.

Additional evidence comes from the profile of those couples included. More divorces involved people aged 40-44 than any other age in 2010 however surprisingly it seems that the age at which people divorce is approaching (both males and females had 0.2 increases to 44.2 and 41.7 respectively), albeit in line with the increase in the age at which people are weding, whilst the period of marital relationships has actually plateaued. Furthermore, the highest rate of divorces for guys in 2010 was seen in the 30-34 year old age group instead of the 25-29 group in 2009 (women were unchanged). This might all suggest that marriages are beginning later on however are beginning to last a little bit longer.

In spite of the latest figures informing us that 33% of marital relationships starting in 1995 had actually stopped working in the 15 year period to 2010 (up from 22% of those in the very same 15 year period from 1970) the ONS is suggesting that the figures they have acquired up until now might indicate that the rate of divorce before the 15th year for more current marital relationships may be most likely to decrease. Again this includes a little more weight to the argument that couples now seem to be waiting longer (cohabiting), being more careful however ultimately, as an outcome, being more successful in their marriages.

In summary, it would appear more than likely that the increase in divorces in 2010 is a spike, as witnessed in previous periods 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 image that couples are being more effective in marriage, however just time will inform.

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