Sunday, December 16, 2018

2010 Divorce Rates and Longer Term Trends


December 21, 2017  

On 8th December, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) released the latest figures on divorces taking place in 2010. Having just recently written about 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 larger photo.

The headline is that the variety of divorces in 2010 rose; the first annual increase in 8 years (because 2003) and seemingly out of step with the more comprehensive pattern. The overall 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 prevalence of divorce the figure might possibly be explained by other aspects such as a larger married population – more tellingly the divorce rate, that is the percentage of the married population that got separated, likewise increased from 10.5% in 2009 to 11.1% in 2010. So does this reinforce the perception that more marriages are stopping working?

Instead of an indication of a broader shift in social attitudes it is most likely that the outcomes for 2010 mark a problem in a longer term decline in divorce rates. This kind of problem or spike in divorce rates has been seen at other points in recent history when the country has actually been on the tail end of a recession. In 1993 the rate spiked following the economic crisis in between 1990 and 1992. There appears to have actually been a lag between the worst of the financial troubles and a dive in divorces and it appears possible that this might also hint at causality; monetary concerns are one of the major causes of relationship breakdowns and the lag might be described by a) a preliminary response to pull together’ to handle cash problems, b) the develop of subsequent pressures in the relationship and then, c) once the relationship has broken down, the time it considers divorce procedure itself to complete.

In regards to the wider photo, the real number of divorces has actually been visibly succumbing to the last decade although it is simple to attribute this to the corresponding fall in marriages and previous divorce trends deteriorating the size of the married population in the first place. That the divorce rate has been gradually falling too recommends that those who are wed are less most likely to split.

Further evidence originates from the profile of those couples included. More divorces included individuals aged 40-44 than other age in 2010 however interestingly 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 people are weding, whilst the duration of marriages has plateaued. Furthermore, the greatest rate of divorces for guys 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 might all recommend that marriages are beginning later but are starting to last a little bit longer.

Despite the latest 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 exact same 15 year duration from 1970) the ONS is suggesting that the figures they have actually obtained up until now might indicate that the rate of divorce before the 15th year for more recent marriages might be likely to decrease. Once again this adds a bit more weight to the argument that couples now seem to be waiting longer (cohabiting), being more careful but ultimately, as an outcome, being more successful in their marital relationships.

In summary, it would appear more than likely that the increase in divorces in 2010 is a spike, as experienced in previous durations of economic crisis, rather than a longer term pattern. There is still proof in the age and duration of those getting divorced to support the larger photo that couples are being more successful in marital relationship, however only time will tell.

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