From their peak in 1993, the number of divorces in England and Wales has fallen by 27% from 165,018 to 119,589 per year. More importantly, divorce rates – the proportion of marriages ending in divorce – have also fallen by 22% from 14.2 to 11.1 divorces per ’000 marriages per year.
New analysis of Office for National Statistics data commissioned for the Marriage Foundation shows that the lower divorce rate is due to fewer divorces granted to wives – but not husbands – during the early years of marriage.
The rate at which wives have been granted divorce has fallen 27% during the first ten years of marriage compared to a rise of 1% for husbands. The most striking reduction is a 51% fall in the rate at which divorces are granted to wives during the first three years.
This gender-specific finding strongly suggests men are doing better in the early years of marriage. It is consistent with recent studies showing that men – much more than women – tend to be more dedicated if they “decide” rather than “slide” through major relationship transitions. As social and family pressures to marry reduce, those men who do marry are increasingly likely to be “deciders”, rather than “sliders”, and therefore more dedicated.