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UK Marriage statistics

By Harry Benson

UK MARRIAGES & DIVORCES   1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
thousands        
Number of first marriages 330 336 389 279 241 180
Number of re-marriages 78 57 82 140 135 126
Number of marriages 408 394 471 418 375 306
Number of divorces 33 26 63 160 168 155
YEAR 2000 COMPARISONS vs 1950 vs 1960 vs 1970 vs 1980 vs 1990
% change      
Number of first marriages -45% -46% -54% -35% -25%
Number of re-marriages 62% 120% 54% -10% -7%
Number of marriages -25% -22% -35% -27% -19%
Number of divorces 368% 502% 146% -3% -8%
KEY FACT: First marriages have halved since 1970 whereas re-marriages have doubled        
FREQUENCY OF MARRIAGE & DIVORCE 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
minutes        
A first marriage takes place every 1.6 1.6 1.4 1.9 2.2 2.9
A second marriage takes place every 6.8 9.2 6.4 3.8 3.9 4.2
A marriage takes place every 1.3 1.3 1.1 1.3 1.4 1.7
A divorce takes place every 15.9 20.5 8.4 3.3 3.1 3.4
KEY FACT: In 1960, a divorce took place every 20 minutes. Since 1980, a divorce has taken place every 3 minutes
YEAR 2000 COMPARISONS vs 1950 vs 1960 vs 1970 vs 1980 vs 1990
% change      
Number of first marriages -45% -46% -54% -35% -25%
Number of re-marriages 62% 120% 54% -10% -7%
Number of marriages -25% -22% -35% -27% -19%
Number of divorces 368% 502% 146% -3% -8%
KEY FACT: Compared to the 1950s, there are now 25% fewer marriages but 5 times as many divorces every year    
UK MARRIAGE RATES   1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
       
For every 1,000 unmarried men, there are 58 62 81 60 42 28 marriages per year
For every 1,000 unmarried women, there are 43 46 61 48 36 26 marriages per year
A million marriages takes 2.5 2.5 2.1 2.4 2.7 3.3 years
KEY FACT: Marriage rates peaked in 1970 and have since fallen by about half
YEAR 2000 COMPARISON vs 1950 vs 1960 vs 1970 vs 1980 vs 1990
% change      
Marriage rate for men -51% -54% -65% -53% -33%
Marriage rate for women -40% -44% -58% -46% -29%
KEY FACT: Compared to the 1950s, marriage rates are now 40-50% lower            
UK DIVORCE RATES   1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
       
For every 1,000 married men, there are 2.2 1.7 4.4 11.4 12.6 12.7 divorces per year
For every 1,000 married women, there are 2.2 1.7 4.4 11.4 12.5 12.3 divorces per year
A million divorces takes 30.2 38.9 15.9 6.3 6.0 6.5 years
KEY FACT: In the 1950s, a million divorces would have taken 30 years. Since 1980, a million divorces have occurred every 6 years.
YEAR 2000 COMPARISON vs 1950 vs 1960 vs 1970 vs 1980 vs 1990
% change      
Divorce rate for men 487% 630% 188% 11% 1%
Divorce rate for women 464% 604% 179% 8% -2%
KEY FACT: Divorce rates have been steady since 1980 but 6 times higher than they were in the 1950s      
UK MARRIED/UNMARRIED POPULATION 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
       
For every 100 married people there are 54 50 47 56 72 90 unmarried people
For every 100 unmarried people there are 184 198 212 178 139 111 married people
KEY FACT: The married population has declined steadily since 1950. The unmarried population has risen fast since 1970  
Sources: Data for UK marriages and divorces are direct from ONS and therefore accurate
Data on populations have been extrapolated from intermittent ONS data for England & Wales
This has then been converted to UK rates and populations at a constant rate
Likely errors due to extrapolation and conversion are very small, in the region of +/- 2% at most
                         

Copyright 2003, Harry Benson.


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