Last year, about a week before Valentine’s Day, the Marriage Foundation released the finding that marriage is getting stronger - a message that seems to go against the general message of other statistical agencies around the world.
The study, which was completed by Harry Benson, used date from the UK to find that marriage is getting stronger despite the UK Office of National Statistics indicating that the rate of divorce in the UK is continuously going up. How could these divergent findings be possible?
It seems that the conclusion all depends on how you look at the data. The UK office for National Statistics looked at the rate of divorce based on the year of the divorce while Benson compared the rate of divorce based on the year of the marriage. So it depends what you're interested in. If you're a divorce lawyer and you want to know if business is going up, then you might be happy to know that, if the trend continues, there will be more divorces in the UK next year. However, if you are getting married and you want to know your chances of success, you should be happy to know that marriages starting recently seem to be fairing better than those starting years ago.
The study found that between 1970 to 2010, couples who tied the knot during 1991 experienced the highest rate of divorce. That is, during their first five years of marriage, an average of 2.12% of them divorced. On the other hand, those who married in 2007 have an average annual divorce rate of only 1.39% per year in their first five years. When these two divorce rates are compared, it seems that those who married more recently are 35% less likely to divorce within their first five years of being together. It seems that the rate of early divorce have been falling in the UK for eight years running.
So what’s the possible impact of this study? First, it has to be said that this may not be happening in Canada. Unfortunately, Statistics Canada did not break down the divorce statistics in a way that allowed me to see if this was the case here. We don't seem to know if Canadian marriages are also getting stronger. However, this study does provide hope. Our world is more connected than ever before, so it is very possible that this is trend that could develop in other similar countries. Perhaps newer generations are finding ways to revitalize marriage. Maybe the tide is changing.
By Dr. Syras Derksen