Sunday, December 8, 2019

2010 Divorce Rates and Longer Term Trends

April 1, 2018  

On 8th December, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) launched the most recent figures on divorces occurring in 2010. Having just recently blogged about the trends over recent years, and what this informs us about the health of marriage as an institution, it is worth considering how these newest statistics affect the larger photo.

The headline is that the number of divorces in 2010 rose; the first annual rise in 8 years (because 2003) and apparently out of action with the more comprehensive pattern. The total variety of divorces that happened in 2010 concerned 119,589 representing a 4.9% boost on 2009’s 113,949 divorces. Although, on the surface, this does seem to recommend an increase in the frequency of divorce the figure might possibly be described by other factors such as a larger married population – more tellingly the divorce rate, that is the percentage of the married population that got divorced, also rose from 10.5% in 2009 to 11.1% in 2010. So does this strengthen the understanding that more marriages are failing?

Rather than an indicator of a broader shift in societal attitudes it is more likely that the results for 2010 mark a problem in a longer term decrease in divorce rates. This type of problem or spike in divorce rates has actually been seen at other points in current history when the nation has actually been on the tail end of an economic crisis. In 1993 the rate surged following the economic crisis in between 1990 and 1992. There appears to have been a lag between the worst of the monetary difficulties and a jump in divorces and it appears plausible that this could likewise hint at causality; financial concerns are one of the significant causes of relationship breakdowns and the lag might be discussed by a) an initial reaction to gather’ to deal with money problems, b) the build up of subsequent pressures in the relationship then, c) when the relationship has actually broken down, the time it takes for divorce process itself to complete.

In terms of the wider image, the actual number of divorces has been visibly succumbing to the last years although it is easy to attribute this to the corresponding fall in marital relationships and previous divorce trends eroding the size of the married population in the very first place. That the divorce rate has actually been steadily falling too recommends that those who are married are less most likely to split.

Additional proof originates from the profile of those couples involved. More divorces included people aged 40-44 than other age in 2010 but surprisingly it seems that the age at which individuals divorce is creeping up (both males and females 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 marital relationships has actually plateaued. Moreover, the highest rate of divorces for men in 2010 was seen in the 30-34 year old age rather than the 25-29 group in 2009 (females were the same). This may all suggest that marital relationships are beginning later on however are beginning to last a bit longer.

In spite of the most recent figures telling us that 33% of marital relationships starting in 1995 had actually failed in the 15 year period to 2010 (up from 22% of those in the very same 15 year duration from 1970) the ONS is recommending that the figures they have acquired up until now may indicate that the rate of divorce prior to the 15th year for more current marriages might be most likely to decline. Once again this includes a little bit more weight to the argument that couples now seem to be waiting longer (cohabiting), being more cautious but eventually, as a result, being more effective in their marriages.

In summary, it would appear more than likely that the rise in divorces in 2010 is a spike, as witnessed in previous periods of recession, 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, but only time will inform.

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