AUSTRALIA: Divorce rates drop in 2008 but rose in 2009; marriage rate at historic high

Melbourne: The Sidney Morning Herald reported yesterday that the 2009 divorce statistics actually showed a spike by about 5% in Australia – the first time the divorce rate rose in Australia in nearly ten years. That would run counter to the U.S. whose divorce rates have been falling since the Great Recession of 2008.

The number of divorces granted in Australia rose for the first time in almost a decade as some experts suggest the increase could be linked to growing money worries.
The number of divorces rose to 49,448 in 2009, an increase of five per cent, or 2239, on the total in 2008, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures reveal.
Once population growth is factored in the rate of marriage breakdown rose from 2.2 divorces per 1000 people to 2.3 per 1000 people in 2009.
It’s the first increase in the number and rate of divorces since 2001.

Just last year, the Daily Telegraph reported a “tumble” in the divorce rate in Australia. What is the cause of the unexpected spike? The global financial crisis. This is ironic since it is the same global financial crisis that is being blamed for the drop in the divorce rates in the U.S. and possibly even across the pond in UK and other European countries. The conventional wisdom in these Western countries is that the recession made divorce too expensive. So couples were staying put and waiting out the bad times. But it seems to be the opposite Down Under, if we are to believe the explanation given by non-profit Relationships Australia:

“The last time we did a survey in late 2008, when the GFC was just starting, we found the number of people that mentioned financial stress as a key factor had more than doubled in comparison to the previous survey in 2006.”
Ms Hollonds said when people were struggling with their relationships “it often is these additional stresses at a time of financial crisis that can tip you over the edge”.
She expects divorces to continue rising for the next year or two as there’s often a lag between problems surfacing and couples actually deciding to split.
The ABS figures, released on Friday, note that the 2008 crude divorce rate of 2.2 per 1000 people was the lowest in 20 years.

Who knows what the true reason is? It could be the economic crisis but it also could be a sign of the times as well.