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Immediate release

Press release from The Iona Institute

Increase in marital breakdown revealed by Census ‘worrying and must be addressed'

March 29, 2012 – New Census data showing that the number of Irish people who have divorced is up 150 percent in the period 2002 to 2011 has been described as “worrying” by The Iona Institute today.

Combining separation, divorce and remarriage following divorce, the overall number of Irish people who have experienced a broken marriage has jumped from 155,239 in 2002, to 247,000 last year, an increase of just under 60 percent in that time period.

Since 1986, marital breakdown in Ireland has shown a sixfold increase. In 1986, there were 40,347 separated people.

Commenting on the figures on behalf of The Iona Institute, Professor Patricia Casey said: “Marital breakdown in Ireland is still quite low by international standards, but the very significant increase in the number of Irish people who have experienced the tragedy of marital breakdown is still very worrying and must be addressed”.

She continued: “The new census figures show that we simply cannot take the institution of marriage for granted, but we have to work as a society to strengthen it and promote it”.

Professor Casey added: “We have also take into account the effect of this on children. Very few married couples would ever want their children to have to experience their separation. But as the Census figures also confirm, a growing number of children never experience the benefit of being raised by their own mother and father together in the first place. This, too, is a cause for concern.”

Other figures worth noting from the new Census are the following:

  • The percentage of children being raised in non-marital family units now stands at 28 percent, up from 26 percent in 2006, 22 percent in 2002, and just 12.8 percent in 1986.
  • A total of 21.6 percent of children are being raised in lone parent families, and 6.4 percent by cohabiting couples
  • The number of children being raised in non-marital family units is 456,661 out of a total of 1,625,675 children
  • The percentage of children being raised in lone parent family units in Ireland is high by international standards. The average in OECD countries as at 2007 was 14.9 percent

Notes to Editors

The Iona Institute is a pro-marriage, pro-religion think tank