You are on page 1of 3

26 June 2008

Coverage United Kingdom Theme Population and Migration

No clear link between marital age gap and divorce

Population Trends 132 - Summer 2008
The likelihood of marriages ending in divorce does not appear to be influenced by the difference in couples ages at marriage according to a new study published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It shows that while there is some evidence of small variations in the proportion of marriages that end in divorce by age difference, there is no evidence of a strong association. The study, using marriage and divorce data for England and Wales from 1963 to 2005, is published in the Summer issue of Population Trends*. It shows that for some marriage generations there may be a relationship between age difference and probability of divorce for individuals who marry above age 30 and are older than their spouse by more than ten years. This is more noticeable for older marriage generations, such as those who married in 1963. Population Trends 132 contains new and up-to-date statistics and feature articles on population and demographic topics. There is an article on the Age differences at marriage and divorce and there are two other feature articles: Estimating the changing population of the oldest old. The 2007 Census test: Evaluation of key objectives

Issued by Office for National Statistics Government Buildings Cardiff Road Newport NP10 8XG Contact Media Office

0845 604 1858

*Population Trends 132 (Summer 2008) Palgrave Macmillan 32.50. Available free on the National Statistics website:

News release: No clear link between marital age gap and divorce

Page 2

Estimating the changing population of the oldest old shows that the increase in centenarians (ages 100 and over) seen between 1951 and 2001 is largely driven by increases in survival between age 80 and 100. It also shows that survival between age 80 and 100 is projected to increase further with the greatest increases seen among men born during the first quarter of the twenty first century. There is one update and one report in this issue, which both cover previously released data: Update: Marriages and divorces during 2005, Adoptions in 2006: England and Wales Report: Marriages in England and Wales, 2006 Other key findings from the article Age differences at marriage and divorce include: Since 1963 there has been a shift in the pattern of marital age differences. In more recent years, the most common age difference is closer to zero (no age gap), suggesting a shift away from the trend in older husbands. Additionally, there continues to be a large spread of age differences, with more recent marriage generations showing a wider range of age gaps than in the past. Changes in the overall pattern of marital age differences are influenced by the characteristics of marrying couples, such as, age at marriage and previous marital status. Two factors influencing the overall trends are changes in the pattern of age differences for first marriages and the increase in the proportion of remarriages over the last forty years. Compared with first marriages, remarriages have a larger spread of age differences. More detailed analysis of divorces by age difference looked at marital status, prior to the marriage in question. This also suggested that marital age difference does not seem to be strongly related to probability of divorce, even when previous marital status is considered.

News release: No clear link between marital age gap and divorce

Page 3

Further research would be required to explore the interaction between age difference and other factors, in particular mortality, which is not included in the analysis.


1. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available from the press office. 2. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference. Crown copyright 2008.