LONDON — Recent figures publicized last week showed that there may be a trend against divorce going on in certain English-speaking countries. According to various reports, Australia and most of Great Britain have seen their divorce rates drop in ways unseen for more than two decades.
According to a Financial Times story from August 30, the divorce rate in both England and Wales has reached its lowest level since 1981. The Office of National Statistics claimed on the previous day that the number of married couples who’d filed for divorce in the past year was 128,534 — a decrease of three percent. In addition, the Office revealed a rate of 11.9 divorces per every 1,000 married couples in the two countries, with an average length of marriage being 11.7 years, and that couples in their late 20s were most likely to break up.
However, some commentators point out that these new statistics are merely in proportion to a decrease in marriage, not a public trend in favor of saving marital unions. “The rate of marriage has dropped,” British lawyer Julian Lipson told the Times, “and therefore the rate of divorce has dropped.”
On the other side of the world, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released their own new figures at about the same time. Oz has reportedly undergone its largest yearly divorce-rate drop in 20 years, while marriage rates are beginning to increase.
According to the Bureau, the Australian divorce rate dropped to 2.3% from 2.5% over 2007, with 47,963 divorces granted last year. And AAP reported that there has been a constant decrease in the number of divorces in Australia for the past seven years: in 2001, the rate was 2.9% and the number of divorces was 55,330. Over the same period, the number of registered marriages in Australia increased from 103,130 to 114,222 in 2006 — creating a rise of approximately 0.2% in the crude marriage rate.
In spite of these numbers, the marriage rate in the country is still 23.6% lower than it was in 1986, according to AAP. And Australian women are more likely to end a marriage than are men, with a total of 38% of divorces filed by wives as compared to 27% by husbands. (About a third of them are filed jointly.)
Is the world slowly heading toward a new era of longer-lasting marriages? Who knows. It might be a small sign of things to come, but it might mean nothing at all. One would hope that such a trend would be a sign of healthier and happier marriages, rather than of couples who force themselves to stay together out for social reasons or because they think it will protect the children. A problematic marriage can only be saved through hard work, honesty, and open communication.
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