Are We Living Happily Ever After?

Category : Vizzing
Date : May 15, 2018

The release of the divorce statistics by ONS gives a certain section of the press a chance at a bit of state of the nation moralising – look at how far the country has fallen in its moral standards.

But as it happens the aggregate data shows that divorce rates today remain low in historical terms and the average duration of marriages ending in divorce reached 12 years in 2016. Only 1972 betters this figure. There are many reasons for this and decent summaries are here and here

This year I’m celebrating twenty years of marriage and it got me thinking. How has the 1998 cohort done? How many will be celebrating twenty years? The question is beyond the aggregate data widely reported. But the ONS release the data by year of marriage, although they hide it way in one of their many spreadsheets.

The cohort data shows marriages ending in divorce have generally increased for those marrying between the early 1970s and the early 1990s. However, for the most recent cohorts, those marrying since 2000, there is some evidence of a decrease in the proportion of marriages ending in divorce. That trend is clearer in the animation below.

But how has the 1998 cohort done? The viz below shows that, for the latest figures in 2016, that 35% of marriages had ended in divorce. Or putting it the other way, 65% are still going after 18 years. Unfortunately, there’s no data on whether they are happily married! 

The percentages in this viz are based on several assumptions including:
1. couples married each year have not moved out of England and Wales.
2. couples divorced each year have not moved into England and Wales since getting married.
3. couples marry in the country where they usually live.
4. The table does not take account of marriages which end due to the death of either partner.

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