Documentation
Metadata
Data Licence Agreement  
 
ANNUAL NUMBER OF DIVORCES
 
  Definition
 

The annual number of divorces is that granted by national authorities during a year. According to the Principles and Recommendations for a Vital Statistics System, Revision 2, divorce is "a final legal dissolution of a marriage, that is, that separation of husband and wife which confers on the parties the right to remarriage under civil, religious and/or other provisions, according to the laws of each country". Unless otherwise specified, the reference period for the number of divorces presented in World Marriage Data 2008 is the calendar year.

 
   
  Method of computation
 

The annual number of divorces is derived directly from reported data. No computation is necessary.  

 
   
  Statistical system generating the data
 

Data on the number of divorces are obtained from civil registration systems. For countries lacking a civil registration system or having a registration system whose coverage is too low, the data are not reported. In some countries, the annual number of divorces is estimated on the basis of data yielded by a sample registration system.

 
   
 

Sources of the data presented

 

The annual number of ­divorces ­ is obtained from reports made by National Statistical Offices to the Statistics Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. The data are also obtained from official publications produced by National Statistical Offices.

For each data point included in the data files, information on the type of statistical system generating the data (registration) and on the exact source of the data (usually denoted by an acronym) is provided. The meaning of each acronym used is presented in the worksheet labeled "Sources".

 
   
  Comments and limitations
 

The data produced by civil registration systems may have different levels of coverage depending on the type of events recorded. Thus, some countries or areas include annulments or legal separations in the annual number of divorces. According to the Principles and Recommendations for a Vital Statistics System, Revision 2, annulment is defined as "the invalidation or voiding of a marriage by a competent authority, according to the laws of each country, which confers on the parties the status of never having been married to each other", whereas a legal separation is defined as "the disunion of married persons, according to the laws of each country, without conferring on the parties the right to remarry." Comparability of the data on divorce across countries can also be affected by the population for which divorces are reported1 and the time reference by which data on divorces are tabulated2 . Footnotes are employed in the data files to indicate any known differences between the data presented and the definition of the annual number of divorces outlined above.

 
   
  Data coverage and reference years for the data reported
 

World Marriage Data 2008 contains data on the annual number of divorces for 164 countries or areas.  When available, data are presented for five reference dates: the closest years to 1970, 1985 and 1995, and the two most recent available years after 1999. For 111 countries or areas, data are available for all five reference dates.

 
   
 

1 While most countries or areas report data on the annual number of divorces for the de facto population (the population present in a country or area at a certain time), some countries or areas report data on divorces granted to the de jure population (that is, the resident population, which excludes temporary visitors but includes residents temporarily absent). Differences also arise when the marriages being dissolved involve partners with different countries of residence or of citizenship.

2 While most countries and areas tabulate information on the number of divorces by date of occurrence, others present data tabulated by the date of registration. In some cases, there can be considerable time lags between the date of occurrence and the date of registration.

 
 

 

  Suggested citation:
United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2009). World Marriage Data 2008 (POP/DB/Marr/Rev2008).