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Divorce rates in England and Worldwide

Date: September 27th, 2010 - Written by: Brookman Solicitors

It was reported in National Statistics in 2007 that England and Wales has the fourth highest rate of divorce worldwide with the United Kingdom coming top, then Puerto Rico and Russia before England with 3.08 people per 1,000 people getting divorced.

So why is England so high on the list?

Our culture impacts on the way we see marriage.  Couples frequently cohabit before marriage in England and Wales and in many other Western societies.  Certainly in some countries religion is a stronger factor in marriage and divorce.  Take for instance, arranged marriages.  Some would perhaps consider the fact that these marriages are not based on love could create a higher certainty of divorce.  However, in certain countries and cultures divorce is not an easy option and a social stigma is attached to it.  Take Spain for instance, the divorce rate is much lower than England and Wales at 0.6 for every 1,000 people and many Spaniards are Catholics, a religion that opposes divorce.  However although the divorce rate was fourth highest in 2007 it was also reported that the divorce rate in England and Wales fell to its lowest since 1981 falling to 11.9 per 1,000 married population compared to 12.2 in 2006.  Interestingly, the highest number of divorces in England and Wales peaked in 1993 and 180,018 divorces were granted that year compared to 144,220 in 2007.

Why is the divorce rate lower now than in 1993?

The reduction in divorces from 2007 onwards could be perhaps attributed to the fact that 2007 was at the height of the boom for the housing market and then prices crashed spectacularly in 2008 meaning that people were trying to sell property and having to slash prices drastically as the market became stagnant.  One theory could be that couples who have decided to separate stayed together as they were not able to sell their property and divide up their assets so easily.  But what about the decline in the year 2007 when the housing market was at its highest?  Is the reason perhaps because less people are getting married now so therefore less divorce is a consequence?  Perhaps we can attribute the fact that the divorce rate was so high in 1993 to the fact that divorce became more acceptable in modern day society from about this time. In our parents generation couples were less likely to divorce.

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