Sunday, December 16, 2018

2010 Divorce Rates and Longer Term Trends


December 22, 2017  

On 8th December, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) released the most recent figures on divorces taking place in 2010. Having recently written about the trends over current years, and what this tells us about the health of marital relationship as an organization, it is worth thinking about how these latest stats affect the larger image.

The heading is that the number of divorces in 2010 increased; the first yearly rise in eight years (considering that 2003) and relatively out of step with the wider pattern. The overall variety 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, this does seem to suggest an increase in the occurrence of divorce the figure could possibly be explained by other aspects such as a bigger married population – more tellingly the divorce rate, that is the portion of the married population that got separated, also rose from 10.5% in 2009 to 11.1% in 2010. So does this strengthen the perception that more marital relationships are stopping working?

Instead of an indicator of a wider shift in social mindsets it is most likely that the outcomes for 2010 mark a problem in a longer term decline 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 a recession. In 1993 the rate increased following the recession between 1990 and 1992. There seems to have been a lag in between the worst of the financial troubles and a dive in divorces and it appears plausible that this could also hint at causality; financial problems are one of the significant causes of relationship breakdowns and the lag may be discussed by a) a preliminary reaction to pull together’ to deal with cash concerns, b) the build up of subsequent pressures in the relationship and after that, c) when the relationship has actually broken down, the time it takes for divorce process itself to finish.

In terms of the broader image, the real variety of divorces has actually been noticeably falling for the last years although it is easy to associate 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 progressively falling too recommends that those who are married are less likely to split.

More proof comes from the profile of those couples included. More divorces included individuals aged 40-44 than other age group in 2010 however remarkably 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 rise in the age at which individuals are marrying, whilst the period of marital relationships has actually plateaued. Furthermore, the highest rate of divorces for males in 2010 was seen in the 30-34 year old age group instead of the 25-29 group in 2009 (ladies were the same). This might all recommend that marriages are beginning later on however are starting to last a bit longer.

In spite of the current figures informing us that 33% of marital relationships starting in 1995 had actually stopped working in the 15 year duration to 2010 (up from 22% of those in the same 15 year duration from 1970) the ONS is suggesting that the figures they have obtained up until now might suggest that the rate of divorce before the 15th year for more recent marriages might be likely to decrease. Again this includes a bit more weight to the argument that pairs now seem to be waiting longer (cohabiting), being more mindful but ultimately, as an outcome, being more effective in their marriages.

In summary, it would appear most likely that the rise in divorces in 2010 is a spike, as witnessed in previous periods of economic downturn, rather than a longer term trend. There is still evidence in the age and period of those getting separated to support the bigger picture that couples are being more effective in marital relationship, but just time will inform.

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