Friday, December 6, 2019

2010 Divorce Rates and Longer Term Trends

December 17, 2017  

On 8th December, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) launched the latest figures on divorces taking place in 2010. Having actually just recently blogged about the patterns over recent years, and what this informs us about the health of marriage as an organization, it is worth thinking about how these latest statistics impact the larger image.

The heading is that the number of divorces in 2010 rose; the first annual increase in eight years (considering that 2003) and apparently out of action with the wider pattern. The total number of divorces that took place in 2010 pertained to 119,589 representing a 4.9% increase on 2009’s 113,949 divorces. Although, on the surface area, this does appear to recommend an increase in the frequency of divorce the figure could potentially be explained 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, likewise rose from 10.5% in 2009 to 11.1% in 2010. So does this reinforce the understanding that more marital relationships are failing?

Rather than an indicator of a broader shift in social attitudes it is most likely that the results for 2010 mark a problem in a longer term decline in divorce rates. This sort of glitch or spike in divorce rates has actually been seen at other points in current history when the country has been on the tail end of an economic crisis. In 1993 the rate spiked following the economic downturn in between 1990 and 1992. There appears to have been a lag in between the worst of the monetary problems 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 may be discussed by a) an initial response to pull together’ to deal with loan concerns, b) the build up of subsequent pressures in the relationship and then, c) when the relationship has actually broken down, the time it considers divorce procedure itself to finish.

In regards to the more comprehensive image, the real variety of divorces has actually been significantly falling for the last years although it is simple to attribute this to the matching fall in marriages and previous divorce patterns deteriorating 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 most likely to divide.

Additional evidence originates from the profile of those couples included. More divorces involved individuals aged 40-44 than any other age group in 2010 however remarkably it appears that the age at which people divorce is creeping up (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 individuals are marrying, whilst the duration of marital relationships has actually plateaued. Furthermore, the greatest rate of divorces for men in 2010 was seen in the 30-34 years of age age group rather than the 25-29 group in 2009 (women were the same). This may all recommend that marital relationships are beginning later but are starting to last a bit longer.

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

In summary, it would seem most likely that the rise in divorces in 2010 is a spike, as seen in previous periods of economic downturn, rather than a longer term pattern. There is still evidence in the age and duration of those getting divorced to support the larger photo that couples are being more effective in marriage, but just time will tell.

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