Since 2008 divorce rates have been falling and is close to the lowest figure in 20 years
Study reveals early years of marriage are when most breakups happen
For couples married more than ten years, divorce rates haven’t changed in decades
Early years: Research shows marriages are more likely to break down at the beginning but are not affected by the state of the economy
Marriages can ride out the recession and couples stick together despite the strains of economic hard times, a research report said today.
It said that the long-cherished theory that the fate of marriages is decided by the difficulties of handling money and dealing with the burden of mortgages and debt is not borne out by the real evidence.
Instead, the study by the Marriage Foundation said, the real danger to marriages lies in the early years after the wedding, with particular pitfalls for couples who lived together as cohabitees before they married.
The report said that, contrary to the views of lawyers, relationship counsellors and the Office for National Statistics, recession acts neither to bind couples together in adversity nor to prise them apart through intolerable financial pressure.
Researcher Harry Benson said: ‘For every year since the 1970s, and across every duration of marriage, from newlyweds through to silver surfers, divorce rates have always stayed within plus or minus 10 per cent of the previous year’s figure.
‘There is no evidence whatsoever to link either economic growth or stock market performance with changes in divorce rates.
The Marriage Foundation – a group headed by High Court family law judge Sir Paul Coleridge – found that at the depths of the early 1990s recession, in 1991, divorce rates for couples who had been married for 20 years fell by two per cent.
But for those whose marriages had lasted just one year longer they rose by 12 per cent.
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‘If divorce were linked to the economy, those figures would have headed in the same direction,’ it said. Overall marriage breakdowns went up in the early 1990s recession.
However since 2008 as the downturn has forced down incomes and driven up inflation, divorce rates have been falling and the number of divorces each year is close to a 20-year-low.
Unaffected: New research shows that divorce rates have fallen since the economic downturn in 2008
The highest divorce rates are recorded among people aged between 25 and 29.
Mr Benson said: ‘To see the real trend, you need to follow the couples who marry in any particular year and compare how they fare over time against couples who married in other years.
‘Only then can you see the real picture, which is that divorce rates are falling entirely because couples are doing better in the early years.
For couples married 10 years or more, divorce rates have not changed in decades.
‘All that matters is why divorce rates vary a lot during the first 10 years and very little thereafter.’
Lasting: In tough economic climates, like the recession in the early 90s, couples who had been married for more than 20 years were even more likely to stay together
Some official speculation has suggested divorce is going down because, as the popularity of marriage has declined, fewer people are marrying in their 20s. The typical age at which a woman gets married is now 30.
Mr Benson has suggested that divorce rates are connected to the level of commitment of couples when they decide to marry.
Often cohabitees have drifted into living together and then drift into marriage without ever making a major decision, and so they are less ready to cope with trouble when it arrives, according to his thesis.
SOURCE: Daily Mail