Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fewer Weddings

In typical media style on Thursday The Guardian reported marriage statistics in England & Wales released by the Office of National Statistics as a "crash to all-time low." In fact the drop in the rate for 2007 from to 2006 was 3.3% which I would hardly describe as a crash and one year's figures alone are pretty meaningless. For example, the current economic circumstances might be a factor in couples postponing marriage. Nonetheless in the longer term there has been a significant downward trend, a drop of 34% since 1981.

One possible explanation for the drop according to Joanna Grandfield, barrister, is men may be delaying or shunning marriage altogether because of a perception in England & Wales that wives do really rather too well in divorce now. However, the changes to divorce laws that have brought about this perception are fairly recent and do not explain the trend over the 27 year period. In Scotland family law is arguably less generous to wives and according to General Register Office for Scotland figures there has still been a drop of some 20% in the number of marriages over the same period.

Do men in England & Wales loose out financially on divorce? According to recent research carried out by ISER not as much as women. Even if one gender does loose out I do not believe the risk of repercussions if the relationship fails is the basis upon which most people decide whether to marry or not. Nor should it be.


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