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Divorce and separation

How does Australia’s divorce rate compare with the rest of the world?

By February 11, 2019November 2nd, 2021No Comments

Australia’s divorce rate — how do we compare with other countries?

A new study has been released by American sociologists which has compared divorce rates around the world, explored how they’ve changed over time, and examined possible societal factors which might affect the divorce rate.

The study was published last December in the journal Social Forces by sociologists at the University of California at Irvine. Scholars Cheng-Tong Lir Wang and Evan Schofer looked at 40 years of data spanning the period 1970 to 2008.

And the study reveals that Australia’s divorce rate comes in at number 18 on a list of 83 countries with 5.61 divorces for every 1,000 married people—though of course much may have changed in the decade since 2008.

The study shows that over the past 40 years, averaged across all regions studied, divorce rates globally have doubled from 2.6 divorces for every 1,000 married people to 5.5 divorces.

  • The average rate of divorce across all years and all regions was 4.08 divorces for every 1,000 married people. Divorce rates ranged from lows of .45 and .46 for Sri Lanka and Peru to highs of 19.01, 11.49, and 11.03 for Kazakhstan, Russia, and Cuba, respectively.
  • In Northern and Western European and Scandinavian countries, divorce rates are “fairly high”.
  • Australia’s divorce rate is also found to be “high”.
  • Rates are “fairly low” in Southern Europe, and most of Latin America.
  • Rates are “low” in Asia, Africa and the Pacific nations.
  • In some other global regions, rates are “quite variable”.

Interestingly, the study omitted the US in its averaging of all divorce rates across regions, explaining that the US is “an extreme outlier”. Presumably, this means that the divorce rates there are much higher than elsewhere—it’s unlikely they are much lower.

The researchers have explored reasons behind this global increase in the divorce rate, such as education, employment, income levels, age at which people marry, and norms and values regarding human rights and gender equality.

Looking at what might be different about countries with higher rates of divorce, the researchers found that divorce rates are higher when nations have:

  • A higher level of economic development, meaning people can afford to divorce:

One of the most powerful predictors of the rate of divorce is a country’s gross national income (per capita). In wealthier countries (as measured by gross national income), a greater proportion of people get divorced.”

  • More women in the workforce, meaning they have skills and resources to support themselves outside of marriage.

Countries with a greater percentage of women (ages 15 and older) in the labor force have higher rates of divorce.”

  • Greater levels of education:

“Nations with more people enrolled in secondary education have higher divorce rates.”

  • A lower amount of Catholics:

“Nations with proportionately more Catholics have lower rates of divorce. Nations with greater proportions of Muslims also have lower divorce rates, but the results are not always statistically significant.”

  • The nations are more likely to be part of international organisations and treaties:

“The authors believe that when nations sign onto international non-governmental organizations and treaties, they are more likely to be influenced by global norms and ideas such as individual rights, the importance of consent, and the freedom to choose one’s own destiny.”

You can read the full story and access the study here.

Do you need help with a divorce or other family law matter? Please call Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Legal Services on (02) 6223 2400.

Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Legal Services.


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