- India, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Turkey have the lowest rates of divorce in the world, but vastly different cultures.
- People in the US are more likely to divorce when the economy is doing well, and whether or not this is universal is uncertain.
- In Turkey, about 15% of marriages in are still child-bride marriages but peoples’ views are becoming more modernized.
Love and marriage. Most people seeking a romantic partner would like to find both. Unfortunately, many marriages end in divorce. In the US about 39% of couples end up parting ways, which is better than statistics from the past, but still quite high.
Worldwide, between 1970 and 2008, (the most recent available statistics), the divorce rate doubled from about 2.6 divorces for every 1,000 people who were married, to 5.5 divorces per 1,000 married people.
People get divorced for many reasons including suffering from irreconcilable differences, cheating, money problems, falling out of love, abuse, substance abuse, and other factors.
When you compare countries, there is a vast difference from one to the next in terms of how many people experience successful marriages. Part of this difference may lie in how divorce is accepted or not accepted in certain cultures, and whether or not couples feel they can succeed economically on their own, should they part ways.
Research has shown that, in the US, people are more likely to divorce when the economy is doing well, as they feel they face better job prospects, and would be more likely to succeed on just one income. Whether or not this plays a role in other countries is not certain.
1. India 1%
As Devdutt Pattanaik writes, “In India, everybody is either married or on the way to getting married. The unmarried man arouses curiosity, the unmarried woman pity.”
Pattanaik describes on Qrius.com how in Indian society, the vast majority of marriages are still arranged, and people accept that. In fact, an IPSOS survey in 2013 found that about 74% of young Indians actually prefer an arranged marriage. But for the rest of Indians love life is not always so traditional. People have affairs, have many wives or husbands, engage in cross-dressing, take on lovers for pleasure, and do what people do all over the world in romance. They just do not get divorced. According to Pattanaik, the notion of divorce in India’s legal system is highly connected with religious beliefs, and this could be what is dissuading people in the country from seeking an actual legal parting of ways.
2. Chile 3%
Somewhat surprisingly, people in Chile are also living with a very low divorce rate. This is surprising only because life in Chile is certainly quite different from life in India.
Chileans live with rules regarding marriage that are connected to the country’s Constitution. In this document it states that the family is the fundamental basis of society. It was not until 2004 that the Civil Marriage Law was enacted in Chile. This was the first time that marriage was regulated by the law in the country. As such, it was also at this time that divorce existed in law for the first time for Chileans. It could be for these reasons that the divorce rate is so low in the country, although more Chileans are divorcing now than before.
3. Colombia 9%
Colombia may have a low divorce rate, but the prevalence of cheating in marriage in Colombian culture is high. It is also true that Colombians may not officially get divorced, as most Colombians are Catholics, but that couples do break up and go their separate ways.
Up to an eyebrow raising 66% of Colombian men and women admit to cheating on their partner at least once, making this the most unfaithful country in all of Latin America. Does marriage count if the quality goes down the drain? That’s up for debate.
4. Mexico 15%
Here is another predominantly Catholic country with a low divorce rate. Again, couples do separate, but statistics show that few actually divorce. The number of people who get divorced is going up in this country, however. From 2001 to 2017, registered divorces in Mexico rose from 57,370 to 147, 581, more than doubling.
Some sources say that this rise is due to the fact that fewer Mexicans are actually getting married in the first place, which is inadvertently pushing the divorce rate higher. In 2008 almost 60% of couples between 15 and 29 years old decided to go ahead and get married. By 2018, that percentage had dropped to 42.8%. Couples in this age group are still together, but existing without a legal union.
5. Turkey 22%
In Turkey, civil law states that if a marriage has broken down irretrievably, a couple can get divorced. Still, there is much stigma attached to getting divorced in Turkey. This is a Muslim country and as such allows for divorce as it was originally sanctioned over 1,400 years ago in Islamic law but the practice is looked on poorly in reality. Divorce in Turkey is generally seen as something controversial that simply breaks a family apart, and leaves women more often than men being ostracized by their community.
The main reason women seek a divorce in this country is because of domestic violence.
Reports say women are seeking divorce more often now not because they are facing more conflict but because they now have more confidence to follow through in seeking their own freedom. More women now work in Turkey, and as such, have become more aware of their rights as individuals.
About 15% of marriages in Turkey are still child-bride marriages but peoples’ views are becoming more modernized. These factors all contribute to what will likely be a rising divorce rates in years to come, but a current national divorce rate that remains quite low.
Depending on the country and reasons behind couples splitting, both a higher divorce rate and a low one can be seen as a positive force. The important thing overall is not that people stick together in their promised unions but that they are true to each other and themselves, and move on if they are unhappy. At least, that's what we think.