Young couples who get through the first 10 years of marriage have the same chance of staying together as their grandparents’ generation, a study of divorce patterns over the last 50 years suggests.
Marital discord between newlyweds also appears to be falling, suggesting that divorce rates in Britain could be set to fall to levels not seen for a generation.
Contrary to the belief that marriages are more unstable than ever before, divorce rates for those who have been together more than a decade have remained almost completely unchanged since the 1960s, it concludes.
Meanwhile marital discord between newlyweds also appears to be falling, suggesting that divorce rates in Britain could be set to fall to levels not seen for a generation, it adds.
The prediction comes in a report by the Marriage Foundation, the thinktank set up by the High Court judge Sir Paul Coleridge to promote marriage.
Using an analysis of official divorce figures for England and Eales over recent decades, the report’s author, Harry Benson, argues that the rise of cohabitation initially led to a spate of fragile marriages.
But in recent years the trend has been the opposite, he says because with cohabitation now widely accepted those who do decide to marry are often more committed.
According to the Office for National Statistics, 42 per cent of marriages now end in divorce, down from a high of 45 per cent a few years ago.
But, according to the report, patterns over recent years suggest that a couple getting married today would have 20 per cent “risk” of divorce in the first 10 years of marriage.
After that the risk would fall dramatically: at about 13 per cent in the second decade, six per cent in the subsequent 10 years and only two per cent after that.
Forty years ago the risk of divorce in the first 10 years of marriage was only around 15 pert cent but rose to 23 per cent by the early 1980s.
It remained there through the 1990s before beginning to fall to the current level and appears to be on course to fall further, Mr Benson said.
But for the subsequent decades of marriage the divorce risk has remained almost unchanged throughout that time.
“Once you get to 10 years you are seeing the marriage vows kicking in,” said Mr Benson.
“Recession or age make no difference to the divorce rate after 10 years.
“Even when you look at all the different types of marriage you see the same pattern repeating all the way through: it makes no difference whether it is a first or second marriage, marriage becomes incredibly consistent once you get to 10 years.
“The biggest message is that marriage is incredibly consistent and predictable once you get to 10 years.
“The first 10 years is when all the potential for change exists, if we could help people to decide how to form stable relationships divorce rates could plummet.”
He added: “Divorce rates for today’s couples are beginning to look like those for the couples who got married in the early 70s.
“Divorce rates are going to continue falling – that’s not a very popular view, everyone says that as soon as recession ends they will shoot up.
“But divorce rates have nothing to do with recession or age or marriage rates or whether it is a first or second marriage.
“Rain or shone, boom or bust, better or worse, richer or poorer they are much the same apart from in the first 10 years.”
SOURCE: The Telegraph