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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Divorce on the Rise in Iraq--Is This a Good or Bad Trend?

My colleague Shoshana Grossbard has an interesting item today on her Economics of Love Facebook page, linking to a story about the rise in divorces in Iraq. The clear tone of the article is that this rise in the number of divorces per year is a bad thing. The facts of the article suggest a different interpretation, however.

While divorce rates are on the rise, they are still significantly lower than during the last years of Saddam’s regime.
In 1995, there were 121,294 divorces but only 33,161 marriages, while in 2003, the year Saddam was overthrown, the country saw 175,579 divorces and only 20,649 marriages.
In 2004, meanwhile, there were 262,554 marriages, compared with 28,690 divorces, and there were 230,470 marriages in 2011, compared with 59,515 divorces that year.
In particular, it is possible that the recent rise in divorces is due to an increasing awareness of the rights of women, since the article indicates that divorces are especially common among women who married at a young age, and among women whose husbands are marrying a second (or perhaps third or fourth) wife, as is permitted for men  in Islam.

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