Golden anniversary couples 200 times more likely to live for a century than get a divorce

Couples who have been married fifty years are over 200 times more likely to become centenarians than get a divorce, new research from Marriage

Couples who have been married fifty years are over 200 times more likely to become centenarians than get a divorce, new research from Marriage Foundation has found.

The think tank founded to promote stable families has calculated the odds for a married couple to separate after their golden wedding anniversary to be one in 1,500.

In contrast, the odds of an 80 year old man reaching a hundred is one in ten and an 80 year old woman, one in six.
Marriage Foundation analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data revealed that, once couples have survived their first ten years of marriage, the risk of divorce diminishes with every year until it reaches vanishingly low levels.

By a couples’ thirtieth wedding anniversary, they face only a one in 25 risk of divorce, while those who have celebrated their ruby anniversary after forty years have as low as one in 150 odds of splitting up.

Harry Benson, research director of Marriage Foundation commented: “This finding demolishes the argument that the growing prevalence of divorce among older couples is to do with higher divorce rates or people living longer.

“People are marrying later, so more divorces are happening among older generations, but rates by year of marriage are actually almost unchanged from since the 1970s.

“It also puts paid to the idea that as people are living longer, they cannot expect to make their relationships last for the duration of their lives. This research shows that with each year that a couple makes their relationship work, the easier it becomes for them to stay together.”

Sir Paul Coleridge, former High Court judge and founder of Marriage Foundation, commented, “People talk glibly about the divorce rate being 40 per cent, but that is a dangerous half-truth. The reality is much more encouraging and reveals that the longer you have been married the longer you are likely to remain married.

“After the tenth anniversary the chances of going through a divorce diminish significantly year by year.

“This is very good news. It shows that effort invested in the marriage pays real dividends over the longer term.”


Notes to editors:

For media inquiries please contact Beatrice Timpson on 07803 726977.

Harry Benson is available to be interviewed, on 07515 699187.
Marriage Foundation was founded by Sir Paul Coleridge, a High Court Judge, moved by his personal experience in 40 years as a barrister and judge specialising in family law. The Foundation seeks to improve public understanding of marriage reduce the numbers of people drawn into the family justice system – some 500,000 children and adults each year.


Marriage Foundation has highlighted the crisis of family breakdown. Their research has found that a child born today only has a 50 per cent chance of living with both parents by the time they reach fifteen.


Foundation research has also found that 93 percent of parents who stay together until their child’s fifteenth birthday are married.

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