Kathleen E Kiernan and Ganka Mueller
Published May 1998
The Family Resources Survey was used to identify the characteristics of the divorced population and two longitudinal studies, the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and the National Child Development Study (NCDS) were used to address the question 'who divorces ?'. The BHPS allowed the examination of this issue ofr individuals and couples whereas the NCDS data allowed the examination of childhood and adolescence factors associated with partnership dissolution in adulthood. Unemployment, reliance on state benefits and disability featured as characteristics of the currently divorced and these factors, along with financial difficulties, were also found to be important precursors of divorce. There was evidence from both the BHPS and the NCDS of an association between emotional factors and subsequent partnership breakdown. In sum, people who embarked on partnerships at an early age, cohabitants, those who had experienced parental divorce, and those who were economically, somatically and emotionally vulnerable had higher risks of divorce.