• Posted on: 27 November 2017
Mr. Jeofrey B. Abalos

Global trends show rising rates of divorce or dissolution of heterosexual marriage, increasing cohabitation, and delay of marital union. Recent research in the Philippines show an apparent tilt towards these patterns.

In an article published at the website of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) entitled The rise of divorce, separation, and cohabitation in the Philippines, Mr. Jeofrey B. Abalos, a doctoral student at the Australian National University and an alumnus of the UP Population Institute, weaves outputs from related literature including two of his own studies to show the aforesaid trends.

In his initial study published in the 35th volume of the Journal of Family Issues (2014), Abalos used Cox proportional hazard regression models to analyse the 2003 and 2008 Philippines National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) data in terms of entry to marriage and cohabitation. Results of this study called Trends and determinants of age at union of men and women in the Philippines show that, among a number of possible factors including education, place of residence (rural or urban), ethnicity, religion, and birth cohort, only education and ethnicity had statistically significant effects in the marriage timing of both sexes. Complementary is a palpable increase in the proportion of Filipinos living together.

Abalos, in his more recent article titled Divorce and separation in the Philippines: Trends and correlates published in Vol. 36 of Demographic Research (2017), used descriptive statistics and logistic regression on 2008 and 2013 NDHS data to unpack the rise of cases in union dissolution in the country, and look into the different factors associated with women’s experience on this phenomenon. Results show that education, type of first union, and childhood place of residence are significantly associated with union breakdown among women. Higher levels of education, cohabitation without ever formally marrying in the initial union, growing up in urban settings, religion and ethnicity are all associated with higher tendencies towards union dissolution.

These studies, according to Abalos, reveal that the increasing rate in marriage dissolution is associated with the rise in cohabitation, women empowerment via education, urbanization, and the rising acceptability of divorce. In the end, the question he asks is whether the state with its new, daring leadership can challenge the age-old lock of the Catholic Church on the legalization of divorce.