Thursday, September 03, 2009

And on a more positive note ....

Here's something a bit more cheering. From the Melbourne Herald Sun:

Marriage is having a renaissance while divorce numbers are falling ...

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008 figures reveal a 20-year high of 118,756 weddings last year.

Only 47,209 couples divorced, 754 fewer than in 2007 and the lowest number in a single year since 1992 ...

The 2008 divorce rate was 2.2 per 1000 people, its lowest for 20 years.

The chart accompanying the article (not online) tells a predictable story. During the height of third wave feminism in the 1990s there was a disruption to family formation. Between 1989 and 1999 the number of marriages actually fell (from 117,176 to 114,316) and the number of divorces rose (from 41,383 to 52,566).

I suggested early in 2006 that feminism had moved into a downphase and that this might open up some space for improved family outcomes:

I'm not suggesting that institutional feminism will go away ... But perhaps at ground level some more space will open up for romance, marriage and motherhood.

And this is what has happened. The rate of marriage has recovered (118,756 in 2008) and the divorce rate has fallen (47,209). Most significantly since 2006 the median marriage age has stopped rising - there has been a pause in the trend to ever later marriage.


  1. Do you think the slumping economy worldwide has anything to do with the climb in marriage rates?

    Also, I thinking about the "lag" in divorce indicators. The average marriage lasts what, seven years? If so, then we may be looking at artifacts of the 2002 - 2003 recession.

    Perhaps bad times are a boon for marriages because men and women actually need each other.

  2. A similar change seems to be happening in Canada. There's been an uptick in the number of births and increased interest in marriage among the people I see and meet.

    This being said, I suspect part of the drop in the divorce rate is due to the aging of the population. The divorce rate is highest in the 20-29 age bracket. As people age they become less likely to divorce because they're less able to attract a new partner.

  3. I know a lot more young women [18-14] who seem more interested in being hitched than before, dunno how representative that is.

  4. Yes I was thinking it might be something to do with the economic downturn too.