Nice piece in the Irish Times…
Professor of Social Science at UCD, Tony Fahey, says the rate of divorce in Ireland now would have been considered low in other countries in the 1950s.
When divorce was first liberalised in western countries, the rates increased rapidly, from one per 1,000 inhabitants, to three and then to five. In the US, the rate hit a high of 5.5 for a time.
The growth lasted up to 30 years before levelling off. In Ireland, the rate peaked at 0.9, and is now 0.6.
It may be that simply fewer people are bothering with divorce. When the process was first liberalised in other countries, one of the spurs was that people wanted to enter a second union and have children, and that prompted them to want to get married.
But the significance of marriage has changed since then. Countries, including Ireland, have become a lot more relaxed about premarital co-habitation, sex outside marriage and non-marital child bearing. The impetus to remarry has reduced.
Perhaps it no longer has the emotional charge it had back then, or perhaps in some way Ireland’s social conservatism is deeper and more innate than many would like to believe?
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty