According to the Office for National Statistics, overall crude divorce rates are down by one third from the peak levels in the early 1990s and 2000s. However comparing total divorces from one year to the next (‘year of divorce’) tells us little about underlying trends. Our method looks at the trend in divorce rates over time for each individual year of marriage (‘year of marriage’).
Analysis of new data specially commissioned by Marriage Foundation reveals that almost all of this fall in divorce rates is due to fewer divorces granted to wives during the early years of marriage – strongly suggesting that today’s newlywed husbands are doing better.
Compared to 1986, the worst year in which to have married, cumulative divorces granted to wives have now fallen by half during the early years of marriage. In sharp contrast, cumulative divorce rates granted to husbands have changed little, if anything rising slightly.
This gender shift was not apparent ten years ago. The simplest explanation is reduced social and family pressure for men to marry. Newlywed husbands within the last decade have become more intentional about their entry into marriage, leading to happier wives and lower divorce.