One might expect that with the economy in such dire straits, the higher levels of personal debt and unemployment that result would be placing enormous strain on relationships and therefore leading to more divorces. However, research has found that this is not the case. It seems that, after all, you can’t blame getting divorced on the recession.
Sir Paul Coleridge, a High Court judge, established a research group called the Marriage Foundation which has been investigating whether or not there is a link between economic hardship and the divorce rate. The group has now concluded that such a link cannot be proved.
According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics in December of last year, the divorce rate fell by nearly 2% in 2011, much to the shock of many family lawyers who had expected a higher rate. Some had anticipated a higher workload due the effect that the economic downturn would have on family life whilst many others predicted that economic improvement would bring many more cases because couples had perhaps been waiting until the value of their assets was restored.
Having looked closely at the changing divorce rate over the last 5 years, both the ONS and the Marriage Foundation have found that the any clear link with the downturn cannot be made. Similarly, a link could not be made between the recession and the break-up rates of companies listed on the FTSE 100.
The report points to the fact that the divorce rate was up 5% in 2003, a year in which the European Commission named the UK economy as one of the healthiest in the EU. Conversely, 9 years earlier when the economy was again strong, the divorce rate fell by 3%. Such inconsistencies can be found throughout British economic history with rates always remaining within 10% of the preceding year.
The man in charge of the research project posits that that the main reason for such a variable divorce rate is the length of marriages.
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