This is a fascinating subject and I would sure love to read your
book when it is completed! As usual, I went on far too long, but I
have to admit that I got quite engrossed in this topic!
One of the first thoughts that struck me when I read your question
was an interesting article I read a few weeks ago. It is about couples
who have chosen to divorce after many years of marriage, but who
recognize their compatibility in other areas of life - mainly business
ventures. Even though you did not ask about this particular aspect of
divorce, I am including it simply as an interesting introduction!
See "Good Divorce, Good Business - Why more husband-and-wife teams
keep working together after they split. Business Week Online. OCTOBER
Now - on to the information you requested. I tried to include as much
as I could and still keep this reasonable so you would not be
Marriage and Divorce
The National Statistics website has compiled an extensive collection
of Divorce Statistics, including Age, Rate, Custody, Duration of
Marriage, Financial arrangements made at divorce, etc. There are so
many reports here, that I will leave it to you to have fun navigating
around the site!
Go to - http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nscl.asp?ID=7475
"Divorce and remarriage in England and Wales," by John Haskey.
Population Trends, no 95, pp 5.
** Please see the excellent survey on Marriage, Divorce, and
Relationships on the Populus.com website. Go to the site, click on the
left hand link for "Poll Archive" and then click on "July 30th -
August 7th 2005 - Relationships"
"Extra-marital affairs remain biggest cause for divorce as major
increases in family strains and emotional/physical abuse also cause
more splits - new survey." Grant Thornton.
Read "Explaining Changes in Divorce Tends: Wife Petitioning in England
and Wales," by Jane M. Binner and Antony W. Dnes. July, 2004.
"Women in their Fifties: well-being, ageing and anticipation of
ageing." CRFR RESEARCH BRIEFING Number 24.
"Concern about ageing western societies has led to an increase in
research into later adulthood and old age. In the UK, however, there
have been relatively few studies of women?s experiences of mid-life.
Women at mid-life are affected by a range of issues and are more
likely to be in paid work and to be facing separation and divorce than
previous generations. This briefng paper reports on a small
qualitative study which explored the everyday experiences of women
aged 50-59 - a topic area in which there has been little previous
research. The study focused on the opportunities and challenges facing
fifty-something women in a range of different social and economic
Marriage and Cohabitation
The 2002 General Household Survey (GHS) contains statistical
information on marriage and cohabitation. An abstract can be found on
the following link:
"THE FACTS BEHIND COHABITATION." Civitas: The Institute for the Study
of Civil Society. http://www.civitas.org.uk/hwu/cohabitation.pdf
"In her book Marriage-Lite Patricia Morgan reviews the research into
the results of cohabitation, compared with marriage, and finds that
marriage is much more than ?just a piece of paper?. Marriage
fundamentally changes the nature of a relationship, leading to many
"UK - Live together - move apart." BBC News. 1999
"Partners who live together are up to nine times more likely to split
up as those who get married, according to national statistics. But
people who marry without living together first are just as likely to
separate as those who cohabit then marry."
Read "Child Support and Partnership Dissolution: Evidence from the
UK," by Ian Walker and Yu Zhu.
"This paper studies the determinants of partnership dissolution and
focuses on the role of child support. We exploit the variation in
child support liabilities driven by an important UK policy reform to
separately identify the effects of children from the effect of child
support liability. We find strong evidence that an increase in the
child support liability significantly reduces dissolution risk. Our
results suggest that child support criteria that are based on the
non-custodial parent?s income, compared to criteria based on aggregate
incomes of both parents, would imply much smaller
Children born to single parents
From "Birth rise 'highest for 20 years'." BBC News. May 24, 2004
"England and Wales has seen the highest annual rise in births for two
decades, official figures show."
"The figures also show that the number of babies born to single
mothers is about 10% higher than it was 10 years ago. In 1993, 32.2%
of births were outside marriage. In 2003,this figure stood at 41.4%.
Data for 2002 showed around 90% of births to teenagers occurred
outside of marriage. This compares to 63% of births to women aged
20-24 and 36% of births to women aged 25-29. Norman Wells, director of
Family and Youth Concern, said the trend in babies born to single
mothers and women in cohabiting relationships was concerning.
"Marriage is more than just a piece of paper," he said. "Cohabiting
relationships are much less stable than marriages and cohabitations
with children are even more likely to break up than childless ones."
He estimates about 40% of lone parent families are created through the
break up of cohabiting unions."
Financial Considerations in Divorce
Read "Retirement Does Not Look Bright for Women Divorcees."
Fool.co.uk. United Kingdom. September 5, 2005.
"One in seven women is facing retirement as a divorcee. However,
although the pension rules changed in 2000, entitling women to a share
of their husband's pension upon divorce, most women who divorced
before this change have missed out on this. As a result, a large
number of divorced women are still facing severe money worries in
See "EFFECTS OF CHANGING MATERIAL CIRCUMSTANCES ON THE INCIDENCE OF
MARITAL BREAKDOWN," by Fiona McAllister. Family Policy Studies Centre.
"This paper is one of a set of seven reviews of evidence, from the
United Kingdom and overseas, on the causes of marital breakdown and
the effectiveness of policies and services intended to reduce its
incidence. The paper examines how changing material circumstances have
influenced divorce rates. Increases in these rates have been linked to
the rise in wives? earning power and consequent reduction in their
dependence on a male breadwinner. Unemployment among men has also been
important in driving trends in marriage and divorce. Nevertheless,
most women are still at least partially dependent on their husbands,
and women and children are more at risk than men of poverty after
divorce, and, on average, suffer quite substantial declines in income
following divorce. The effect of State benefits on decisionmaking
about family formation and dissolution suggests that the effect of benefits
depends on the proportion of household income they form, together with
beliefs about child welfare."
From "New evidence of women's pension disadvantage." Economic & Social
Research Council.July 2003.
"Divorced women begin to 'catch up' on lost employment, earnings and
pension-building only when their children are independent, but they
remain at high risk of poverty in later life. On average, children are
4-5 years old at the time of divorce, restricting their mothers'
opportunities for earning and pension-building for a number of years.
For this and other reasons, legislation allowing pension-sharing at
divorce is unlikely to end divorced women's pension disadvantage
compared with other women and divorced men."
Marriage and Divorce
For an excellent compilation of the latest statistics available, see:
"Marriage & Divorce: U.S. Divorce Statistics. (2002 except where noted)
"Births, Marriages, Divorces, and Deaths: Provisional Data for 2003."
National Vital Statistics Reports. Volume 52, Number 22. June 10, 2004
"Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2001. Current
Population Reports," by Rose M. Kreider. U.S. Census Bureau. Issued
February 2005. http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p70-97.pdf
The following report was published in 2002, but the statistics are
from surveys taken in 1995:
"Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United
States." Data From the National Survey of Family Growth, Department of
Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control, 2002.
See abstract of report: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/02news/div_mar_cohab.htm
From "SINGLE-MINDED: Women know their way around Splitsville better.
Why should we be surprised that women navigate divorce better than men
do?" by Jane Ganahl, San Francisco Chronicle. June 6, 2004
"A new AARP survey of divorced people older than 40 finds that,
contrary to the cliche that men leave their wives after years of
marriage, women are the ones doing the leaving. In droves. In fact,
two-thirds of all divorces of middle-aged and older people are now
initiated by the wife, according to the study, titled "The Divorce
Experience: A Study of Divorce at Midlife and Beyond,'' which surveyed
1,147 people ages 40 to 79 who had divorced in their 40s, 50s or 60s.
Sixty-six percent of the women reported that they had been the one to
initiate the divorce, 21 percent said the spouse had initiated it and
12 percent said it was a joint decision. Not only that, but a hefty
number of the divorced men (26 percent) "never saw it coming." Only 14
percent of divorced women said they were blindsided by their husband's
calling it quits.
* See Report - "The Divorce Experience: A Study of Divorce at Midlife
and Beyond." Executive Summary. Report by Xenia P. Montenegro, PhD.
AARP Magazine. 2004.
"The results are based on interviews with 1,147 respondents -- 581 men and 566
women ages 40 to 79 who were divorced at least once during their 40s,
50s, or 60s. Some are still divorced, some have remarried, and a few
are widowed. Respondents represent divorcees and remarried divorcees
in the United States population who divorced when they were between
the ages of 40 and 69."
** Full Report: http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/general/divorce.pdf
The potential for divorce may drive some older women to enter the workplace:
From "What Makes Older Women Work?" By Alicia H. Munnell and Natalia
Jivan. Center for Retirement Research. Series 1, Septembe 2005.
"Divorce - either as a theoretical possibility or an actual occurrence
- may also affect a woman's decision about whether to work. The
dramatic increase in the probability of divorce between the mid-1960s
and the late 1970s may explain, in part, the increase in female labor
force activity during this period. Between 1962 and 1979, the number
of divorces per 1000 married women soared from 9 to 23 and has
remained high since then (see Figure 2). Divorce is a negative
financial shock due to the loss of the husband's
earnings, which often forces a woman to enter the labor force. In
addition, divorced women might begin treating jobs as a career where
they can define themselves rather than a means of earning an income."
"Divorce: Its impact on the older female." Wineman, Doris N.
Dissertation. Inst For Clinical Social Work (Chicago), US. 4/2000.
"Divorce for women after midlife." Uhlenberg P, Cooney T, Boyd R. J
Gerontol. 1990 Jan;45(1):S3-11.
"Marriage, divorce, and remarriage in the 1990's." Norton AJ, Miller
LF. Curr Popul Rep Popul Charact. 1992 Oct;(180):i-1-21.
"The Topography of the Divorce Plateau: Levels and Trends in Union
Stability in the United States after 1980," by R. Kelly Raley.
Demographic Research - Volume 8, Article 8.
"Divorce Rates, Marriage Rates, and the Problematic Persistence of
Traditional Marital Roles," by Ira Mark Ellman.
Family and Living Arrangements - Statistics
See "America?s Families and Living Arrangements: 2003." Current
Population Reports. U.S. Census Bureau.
See "Children?s Living Arrangements and Characteristics: March 2002."
Current Population Reports. U.S. Census Bureau.
See statistics on Cohabitation on the Alternatives to Marriage Project website:
From "75 Shanghai couples end marriage every day." China Daily.
"The fifth trend is the mid-life crisis facing the people aged 31-40,
with marriage severing after 11 to 20 years. Analysts said that
psychological pressure from career and life has gradually led to
divorce in some cases among the middle-aged couples."
"To address the increasing rate of divorce in Shanghai, the municipal
government has arranged consultants to provide free services on how to
seek reconciliation between marital crises. Consultants at the Pudong
District marriage registration office, for example, claim that they
have successfully convinced 65 couples to keep their marriage since
last April. Through consulting, couples in crisis are encouraged to
give a second thought on how to best handle their marriage
relationship, especially in terms of children, amongst other social
and economic factors in their life."
Revised Marriage Law has made divorce easier...
From "Divorce rises with changing marriage and love," By Wang Jiaquan
(China Daily) Updated: 2004-11-30.
"Divorce procedures used to be so fastidious and exhausting that many
people decided to endure dead marriages rather than go through the
process to end it. Then there were traditions to get over, with
divorce being traditionally regarded as disgraceful, Zhou said.
"Opposition from parents, gossip from neighbours and colleagues, and
division of property - all these problems could put people off, not to
mention the interference of work units or neighbourhood committees by
persuasion or mediation." But the new regulations exempt the party who
wants the divorce from getting a reference, a previous requirement,
from his or her employer or community administrator. "It saves them a
lot of trouble now they don't need such a reference letter at the cost
of their privacy," Zhou said. With the new regulations, "divorce has
become a completely personal matter," said Professor Wang Zhenyu with
the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)."
"Women in China embrace divorce as stigma eases." China News. 2005
Read "EXTRAMARITAL AFFAIRS, MARITAL SATISFACTION, AND DIVORCE:
EVIDENCE FROM HONG KONG," by C. SIMON FAN and HON-KWONG LUI.
Contemporary Economic Policy. Vol. 22, No. 4, October 2004.
See "Divorces - summary of latest trends." Statistics New Zealand
"Couples who have been married for between five and nine years
accounted for 19 percent of all divorces in 2004. This group was
followed by couples married for 10-14 years. They accounted for 18
percent of all divorces. They in turn were followed by those married
for 15-19 years (15 percent) and less than five years (14 percent).
The rise in age at divorce is continuing. This partly reflects the
marked trend toward later marriages. The median age at divorce in 2004
was 43.0 years for men and 40.4 years for women, compared with 39.8
years and 37.0 years, respectively, in 1994. In 2004, the peak age for
divorce among men was about 39-40 years, and for women it was 40
See "Living Longer, Divorcing Later: The Japanese Silver Divorce
Phenomenon," by J. Sean Curtin. Japanese Institute of Global
Communications. Last Updated: 09/12/2003.
Excerpts (but please read entire article to keep excerpts in context)
"As in other industrially advanced countries, greatly increased life
expectancy has gradually altered the way Japanese people think about
and conceptualize marriage and the family. Although changing marriage
patterns are often considered to be something that only affects young
couples, senior citizens are not immune to their influence. Evidence
of this can clearly be seen in the divorce statistics which have
witnessed a sharp rise in late-life divorces over the last decade.
This kind of phenomenon has been recorded in most other
post-industrial societies such as the United Kingdom and Canada. In
Japan, this is still a relatively new phenomenon, which society is
gradually coming to terms with.
"So, why do many Japanese women wait twenty or more years before
deciding to initiate a divorce? The answer is entangled in a complex
web of socio-economic factors. In very simple terms, increased
life-expectancy and better health in old age has made many women
reflect more deeply on the actual quality of their marriage. This
situation has encouraged women to consider a late-life divorce as a
viable alternative to an unhappy union."
"Recent divorce statistics reveal that the prospect of spending
retirement in close proximity to someone you do not get along with has
became less appealing to many Japanese."
"An additional social factor influencing late-life divorces is the
social reputation of adult offspring. By the time of the husband's
retirement, children would most likely have left home and probably
married. Thus, if the mother decided to initiate a divorce at this
juncture, it would cause her offspring the minimum of social
Read "The impact of children on divorce risks in first and later
marriages," by Annette Erlangsen and Gunnar Andersson. Working paper
of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. October 2001
Read "The Joint Effects of Marriage Partners' Socioeconomic Positions
on the Risk of Divorce." Jalovaara, Marika. Demography - Volume 40,
Number 1, February 2003, pp. 67-81
"This study investigated the joint effects of spouses' socioeconomic
positions on the risk of divorce in Finland. For couples in which both
partners were at the lowest educational level, the risk of divorce was
lower than could be expected on the basis of the previously documented
overall inverse association between each spouse's education and the
risk of divorce. Women who were employed or were homemakers, and who
had employed husbands, had comparatively stable marriages; couples in
which the husband, the wife, or both partners were unemployed had an
elevated risk of divorce. A husband's high income decreased the risk
of divorce, and a wife's high income increased the risk at all levels
of the other spouse's income, but especially when the wife's income
exceeded the husband's."
Read Facts and Figures from "Marriage and Divorce." Volume 183, Issues
in Society. 2003. http://www.spinneypress.com.au/183_book_desc.html
CHILDREN AND DIVORCE
"Divorce and separation: The outcomes for children." Foundations. June 1988
See this review from "the findings of about 200 research reports from
overseas and the UK, but concentrating on the latter, and covered
research over several decades."
I hope you find some useful facts and insights for your book! I think
you have hit on a very interesting topic that will reach out to a wide
audience of women!
UK marriage and divorce statistics
statistics UK AND children born to single mothers
trends in divorce in the later years
UK women divorce in mid life
China marriage and divorce statistics
older women and divorce
UK divorce in mid-life
UK AND divorce after children leave home
UK AND divorce and remarriage
US AND divorce and remarriage
US marriage and divorce statistics
impact of divorce on middle-aged women
UK AND cohabitation statistics
US AND cohabitation statistics
UK AND effect of mid-life divorce on the economy
UK AND women divorce and pension