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Divorce In Canada: Facts, Figures And Consequences.

1635 words - 7 pages

It is easy to misinterpret and misunderstand facts about divorce. To begin with, much of the media that informs us is American. As a result, we often accept American facts and erroneously apply them to the Canadian situation. We do have to separate Canadian from American facts. Second, official statistics about divorce are sometimes confusing and erroneously interpreted, even by a few scientists themselves. And, third, when research information and official statistics are published, radio, TV, and newspaper people often tend to report on some selected pieces of information and consequently may inadvertently blow them out of proportion. Furthermore, media people may neither have the time nor the space to provide the necessary appreciation of the context and other important facts which are essential in the interpretation of the information they selectively provide.UNDERSTANDING THE NUMBERS.Is it true that one out of every two marriages breaks up"?Definitely not. This business about "one out of every two marriages breaking up" comes to us straight from the U.S. where the rate has always been higher than our own. Moreover, even for Americans, the claim exaggerates the rate of divorce which stands at 44 percent.So what percentages of marriages do break up?Frederick and Hamel (1998) cautiously estimate that "almost one in every three Canadian couples (31%) who married in 1991 will eventually split up if the 1991 divorce rates prevail".Are divorce rates going up or down?Statistics Canada presents us with the following rates of divorce throughout the years:Years # of divorces Rates per 100,000pop. Rates per 100,000Married couples1921 558 6.4 N/A1941 2,462 21.4 N/A1961 6,563 36.0 N/A1968 11,343 54.8 N/A1969 26,093 124.2 N/A1981 67,671 271.8 1,174.41985** 61,980 253.6 1,103.31986 78,304 298.8 1,301.61987*** 96,200 362.3 1,585.51990 80,998 295.8 1,311.51994 78,880 269.7 1,246.31995 77,636 262.2 1,221.9* Reform of Divorce Laws** Divorce Act ("no fault")*** Peak yearThere is no question that divorce has greatly increased in Canada since 1968 when the Divorce Laws entered into effect. We have experienced a seven-fold increase by 1987 and a five-fold increase from 1968 to 1995. All in all, divorce rates peaked in 1987 and have since stabilized at a lower level. Whether they will go up or down in the future largely depends on demographic factors and on people's lifestyle as well as values. For instance, as more and more young couples choose to cohabit before marriage and as the "children of divorce" who are at a higher risk of divorcing enter into marriage themselves (Amato and Booth, 1996), there are chances that divorce rates could go up again one day. I...

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