Vanishing 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 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.”


Here you can download the Research Briefing Paper as a PDF and the Press Release where it is available.

Media Links

The Sunday Times, 7th February 2016
By Nicholas Hellen, Social Affairs Editor: Love formula shows chance of living happily ever after

Daily Star Online, 7th February 2016 By Joe Kasper: How long will YOUR relationship last? Scientists think THIS formula can predict…

The New Zealand Herald , 8th February 2016
By Steve Doughty: Risk of divorce drops with every year of marriage

Scottish Daily Mail, 8th February 2016
By Steve Doughty: Risk of divorce drops with every year of marriage

The Sun Online, 8th February 2016
By Alana Moorhead: Scientific formula claims to be able to predict how long your relationship will last

IOL South Africa, 10th February 2016
By Steve Doughty: Study casts doubt on ‘silver splitter’ trend

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