TORONTO — A report from York University addresses the current trends and consequences of marital breakdown across Canada, based on data from Statistics Canada and many other sources.
Divorce: Facts, Causes & Consequences, the third edition of which was released yesterday by the north Toronto university’s Vanier Institute of the Family, discusses the factors that lead to divorce and the results of it. The study looks at divorce, remarriage, and cohabitation in Canada as well as their effects on children, and it compares divorce in Canada to divorce in other countries.
“Divorce is necessary in any society,” study author Dr. Anne-Marie Ambert writes in the report’s conclusion. “This said, divorce and remarriage are adult institutions. That is, they were intended to separate couples who could no longer live together and to allow ex-spouses to re-partner. However, these institutions are not always in the best interest of children… Divorce is not necessarily a positive experience for adults, either.”
Dr. Ambert, a retired professor who has worked in York’s Department of Sociology, adds that many happy marriages end in divorce and that the ex-spouses of these marriages don’t have better lives afterward. “It seems that there may be two types of divorce,” she writes. “Those resulting from a truly unhappy marriage, and those resulting from a weak commitment to marriage.”
The study reports that recently married Canadian couples have a 38% risk of divorce by their 30th anniversaries and that the national divorce rates decreased over the 1990s, staying at a general low level since 1997. Dr. Lambert also points out that due to uneven income distribution in North America and the U.K., the negative repercussions for children are more severe in these nations than in most of Europe, especially Scandinavia.
Dr. Ambert’s research examines cultural and demographic factors in Canadian divorce. Some of the consequences of divorce that she identifies are a higher risk of poverty and problems with children.
“I was struck by the findings of a recent survey of teenagers in Canada,” Vanier Institute Executive Director Clarence Lochhead writes in the report’s introduction, “in which 90% said they expect to marry and to stay with the same partner for life… What is curious about this is that it seems to be quite at odds with the ‘evidence’.”
Divorce: Facts, Causes & Consequences, the Vanier Institute’s 27th study in its Contemporary Family Trends series, is available for download on the Institute’s website.
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