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Divorce rate rises by more than 150% since 2002

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Irish Times

Conor Pope

While marriage has become more popular in the Republic in recent years, much greater growth has been seen in divorce rates, the latest census figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) have revealed.

The number of married people in the State increased by nearly 10 per cent in just five years, between 2006 and 2011.

The number of divorced people increased by more than 150 per cent in the 10 years from 2002, reflecting both a higher incidence of marital breakdown and the greater number of couples availing of divorce following a mandatory period of separation.

The CSO statistics, which focus on living arrangements in the Republic, show the number of married people last year was 1,708,604, compared with 1,565,016 five years earlier.

Between 1996 and the middle of last year, the proportion of the population who were divorced grew from 0.4 per cent or just 9,787 people to 2.4 per cent, or 87,770 – an increase of almost 800 per cent.

In 2002, the first census conducted since the legalisation of divorce in Ireland in 1995 showed there were 35,059 recorded divorces.

A growth in remarriage mirrors the rise in divorce and there was an increase of nearly 550 per cent in those who had remarried following divorce or annulment over the same period, from 6,641 people in 1996 to 42,960 in 2011.

Overall, men are much more likely to remarry, with 39 per cent of divorced men having remarried, compared with 28 per cent of women.

Divorced men are also more likely to be in childless households, with some 78 per cent of separated and divorced men living in households with no children when the census was taken – in contrast to 44.5 per cent of their female counterparts.

The percentage of the population aged over 15 who were single fell from 43.1 per cent in 2006 to 41.7 per cent, or 1,505,035 people, in 2011.

The average number of children in each family last year was 1.5 in rural areas and 1.3 in cities. Cohabiting couples with children had an average of 1.74 children, while the figure for married couples was 2.09 children.

The CSO reports that 32 was the age at which married women outnumbered their single counterparts, while for men it was two years higher at 34.

The marital family still accounts for the majority – 70 per cent – of all family units, or just over 870,000 families.

Some of the biggest increases in family units were among husbands and wives who have children, who made up almost half of all families last year, or just under 560,000 family units.

The number of cohabiting couples has been rising rapidly in recent years.

While cohabiting couples are still one of the fastest-growing family units – up 18 per cent – the pace of growth has slowed. They now account for 143,600 family units.

The fall in the average number of children per family in recent years – from 2.0 children in 1991 to 1.8 in 1996, to 1.6 in 2002 and 1.4 in 2006 – has levelled off to remain at just below 1.4 in 2011.

A high number of births between 2006 and 2011 (363,500) was a contributing factor in this slowdown.

There were 344,944 couples without children, of whom 261,652 were married and 83,292 were cohabiting.