There are many reasons for the changes in divorce rates since the 1969 such as the legal changes, the changing role and position of women, also how the expectations for marriage is different. It is shown that from 1969 until 1972, divorce rates had doubled from around 50,000 divorces in the UK. It had more than tripled to 170,000 in 2000. Despite this, divorce rates dropped in 1993 from 180,000 to 157,000 in 2001. We know that in the past divorce was very hard to get as it was only legal for the men to file a divorce and was socially unacceptable.
From here in 1984 the law allowed couples to petition for a divorce after one year of marriage instead of three, meaning that couples no longer had to endure an empty shell marriage over a long period of time. These main laws made it easier for couples to divorce so nothing was holding them back from divorcing making it less lengthy to divorce a partner because of the new laws removing some lengthy processes e.g. proving fault. Another reason for high divorce rates in the contemporary UK is family changes. Functionalists like Fletcher believed that divorce was rising because people were raising their expectations in marriage, this suggests that higher divorce rates means higher value of marriage.
As well as a decline in the total number of marriages, there is also a decline in marriage rates (the number of people marrying per 1000 of the population aged 16 and over). In 1994, the marriage rate was 11.4 but this had declined to 10.3 by 2004. The male rate declined from 36.3 in 1994 to 27.8 in 2004 whilst the female rate declined from 30.6 to 24.6. Once again, even though there is a decline, British Social Attitude Surveys indicate that most people, whether single,
Moreover because of these birth control techniques family sizes have decreased as more and more women now have more control over births than they did in the 1900’s, so they are choosing to have less children as a result of this. Secondly women’s position in society has changed; they have become more equal to men and are given more equal opportunities in workplaces, as Rapoport (1969) termed “dual-career
This is proven since in 1900 the IMR in the UK was 154 and by 2007 it had sharply declined to 5, owing to many factors including improved housing and better sanitation. So infant mortality rates decreasing has caused birth rate to decrease and therefore also decreasing family size. A final reason is the idea that children have become an economic liability. This is due to two many reasons, the first being laws
There are many reasons for changes in family size over the past 100 years. Family size has been changing in all of the world’s industrial societies. One of the main reasons of changes in family size is that divorce rates have increased dramatically. This can be seen by figures showing that in 1950, there were 40,000 divorces across England and Wales and in 2005 there 153,399 across the same area. The increase in divorce has led to more reconstituted families, singlehood and single parenthood, therefore the family size has generally decreased apart from in cases where reconstituted families have been formed.
So an arguably more important reason as to why there has been a change in the divorce rate would be due to the declining stigma which society attaches to divorce. A combination of society’s exposure to the divorce cases of famous couples in the media and in everyday lives has lead to divorce becoming normalised, when in the past it would have been seen as shameful. This factor influences the change in the divorce rate because as its social disapproval lessens and divorce becomes more socially acceptable, couples become more willing to resort to divorce as a means of solving marital problems. A reason for wide society’s change of attitude towards divorce could be due to a decline in the influence of religion; which had once instilled a greater sense morality, shared norms and shared values into British society. The 2001 census shows that 43% of young people with no religion were cohabiting.
For example, in 1946, only 37% of petitions came from woman – barely half todays figure. The most common reason for a woman to be granted a divorce is the unreasonable behaviour of her husband. Some couples are more likely than others to divorce, those couples whose marriages are at greatest risk include those who marry young, have children before they marry or cohabit before marriage, and those where one or both partners have been married before. Divorce was very difficult to obtain in 19th-century Britain, especially for woman. Gradually, changes in the law had made divorce easier.
These statistics show that marriage remains popular despite the reduction in the number of marriages. A reason for the decrease in first time marriages could be because of the increase of cohabitation (where a couple live together but they do not feel the need to marry). This increase is linked to changing social attitudes towards sex outside marriage. Before the 1960s, it was considered unacceptable for unmarried women to be sexually active. Official records show that the proportion of people cohabiting has more or less doubled over the last 20 years.
They had ‘ pink collar jobs’ which were basically low paying jobs such as being secretaries, telephone operators, and sales clerks. By this time women were getting higher education so two or three generations would end up being college graduates. Although this was true only 25% of married women worked outside of home. Ideas had changed throughout time, such that women began relying on doctors, nurses and teachers instead of trusting their instinct. This created a greater sexual relationship between the wife and the husband.