marriage and divorce

marriage and divorce
   A public opinion poll of 1981 produced in Spain a 23 percent agreement with the statement that marriage was an outdated institution, the second highest positive response rate (after France at 29 percent) in ten western European countries. The subsequent drop in marriage indices has confirmed the decline in the popularity of marriage in Spain, although whether the causes are predominantly economic (long recession accompanied by high unemployment from 1975 to 1984) or predominantly social (a shift in attitudes and a decline in the influence of the church) is unclear. The number of marriages per thousand inhabitants has dropped from 7.5 in the 1960s to an average of 5.4 in the 1980s. Although it has crept up in the 1990s to 5.7, this is still very much lower than we might expect given the high number of people reaching marriageable age as a result of the baby boom of the 1960s. It is clear that co-habitation and even single parenthood have become more acceptable, the illegitimacy rate having climbed from a low point of 1.3 percent of births in 1971 to over 9 percent of births by the end of the 1980s (still much lower than in most other western European countries). As far as the average age of contracting partners is concerned there was a significant drop in the 1970s to 24 for women and 26 for men, but it has since risen to 26 for women and 28 for men. Divorce in Spain has been possible since 1981. Far from the predicted avalanche of applications to the courts from estranged couples, the take-up rate was low at just 16,000 dissolutions during the first year after the divorce law was enacted, climbing gradually to a peak of 27,500 in 1991. This gives a divorce rate among the Spanish population of 0.5 per thousand, or roughly one in ten marriages, substantially lower than in most other western European countries. Legal separation has increased faster than divorce in the 1980s to reach 40,000 by 1992. Both divorce and separation can be obtained by mutual consent or through application by one partner with a legally justified cause. Although the latter type of application still outnumbers the former, there has been a clear tendency for joint applications to increase, and they now account for 45 percent of divorces and virtually 50 percent of separations.
   Further reading
   - Hooper, J. (1995) The New Spaniards, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 176–85 (entertaining, perceptive and mostly accurate).
   - V Informe sociológico sobre la situation social de España (1994) Madrid: Fundación FOESSA, vol. 1, pp. 173–4, 433–45 and 491–7 (the social survey of Spain par excellence and an indispensable sociological tool).
   C. A. LONGHURST

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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