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Family and Divorce

Definition of Family

The word “family” is originated from the Latin word “familia” which means a group of people affiliated by blood or co-residence (Goodman, 2011). According to this definition, we cannot restrict family affiliation just to relationship by blood. When a stranger comes into the family, he/she soon becomes a member of the family with the other members developing affiliation towards him/her. This will therefore be referred to as affiliation by residence.

Types of Families

According to Blackwell (2003), a family may be of three categories. The first one is a matrilocal institution, which refers to a family comprised of mother and her children. Secondly, conjugal family refers to a father, his wife, and children. Finally, consanguineal family, also referred to as an extended family, involves co-residence of a matrilocal family and other categories of family organizations with single parents, grandmothers, grandfathers, cousins, and uncles among others. Conjugal family is also considered as a nuclear family. A consanguineal family can also be referred to as an extended family.

Major Purpose of Families

One of the basic functions of a family is the reproduction and upbringing of children. It does not only imply the biological reproduction but also social development of persons. A family moulds the character of a child since birth until it becomes an adult; therefore, it has a very big social role in children’s lives. Most stereotypes emerge from families (Scheider, 1984). A boy is given responsibilities that are different from those given to a girl; that changes their way of thinking. A family is the source of culture and often influences even the religion of children. For example, most children from Muslim families end up being Muslim when they grow up; the same is true about other religions.

Similarities and Differences Between the Types of Families

  1. Nuclear families are more common among the people of higher social and economic status while extended families are prevalent among the people of lower socio-economic status.
  2. Nuclear families are more likely to shift from one region to another in search for better salaries. Extended families are mostly restricted to one geographical location because of economical hardships. However, some extended families are rich and mobile too.
  3. Nuclear families are normally comprised of two generations which are the young and the old. Extended families sometimes comprise three generations which include the young, middle-aged, and the old age.
  4. All types of families imply sharing of love, responsibilities, and cultural values which moulds the behavior of individual members of the family.
  5. Children raised in matrilocal families mostly behave in a different way from those raised in either nuclear or extend families with both the mother and the father present. This is because they have no experience of having a father in the family.

Statistics and Information on Divorce Rate in Various Countries of the World

The United States of America

According to the data gathered by the National Center for Health Statistics and the divorce data from the National Marriage Project report that was published in the State of Our Union’s report 2011, the divorce rate in the USA is generally dropping, but it started rising from the year 2000. However, the National Center for Family and national research compared the data they had with this one and made a conclusion that divorce rates in America seem to have remained static for twenty years. Since they have not released their official data yet, we shall use the above project report. The chart below represents the crude divorce rates in the USA. The reason for the inconsistencies between the graph below and the conclusion made by the National Center for Family and national research is the missing data for Indiana and Louisiana in 1990-2000.There is also missing data for California in 2000-2011.

How many are married in the USA?

To get the number of the married population in the USA, we have to multiply the figures in the above chart by one thousand as follows:








No. married








The range is obtained by subtracting the highest figure from the smallest figure; in the case above, the range will be: 21700-9200=12500.

How many got remarried?

According to information obtained from the Center for Health Statistics and the Divorce Center, approximately ninety percent (90%) of Americans get married and remarried.


Marriage rates have been dropping in Australia from the nineteen sixties (1960’s) up to date.118,756 marriages were registered in Australia in the year 2008 which results in a marriage rate of 5.5 per the population of 1000 people. Australia’s highest crude marriage rate ever recorded was in 1942 which was 12.0 per the population of 1000 people. The graph below was extracted from the Australian historical population statistics (cat no.3105.0.65.001)

How many are remarried in Australia?

According to Marriage and Divorce, Australia had (cat no.3310.0) 33% of marriages in 1997 and 14% in 1967 comprise couples who got married for the first time.12% of the couples had been previously divorced.

Generally, divorce rates in Australia were very low until the enactment of the Family Law Act (1975) which allowed divorce on the grounds of irreversible breakdown of the marriage marked by the separation of the spouses for the last one year. Thereafter, the divorce rates have been generally constant although there was a slight drop towards 2008. The chart below shows  crude divorce rates in Australia from the year 1900 up to the year 2010.

The United Kingdom

In 2010, the number of marriages recorded in the U.K was 2.2 million. About 1.0 million divorces took place in the year 2009. This gives us a range of 1.2 million. That means that the rate of crude marriage in 2010 was 4.4, and the rate of crude divorce was 1.9 in the year 2009. The statistics below is obtained from the UK National Statistics office. In the UK, divorce is allowed by the law (the Matrimonial Act, 1973) on certain grounds including: adultery, intolerable behavior, agreement between the couples to divorce among others.


The percentage of divorce rates in Canada has been fluctuating since late 1980’s. However, the range of fluctuation has been minimal. This can be shown in the chart below. The divorce rates in Canada seem to be very high. In 1986, there were approximately 410 divorces per 1000 marriages. It went up to 506 in 1987 and reduced in a fluctuating trend to 405 in 2008.

The divorce rate for 1987 increased to 506 divorces per 1000 marriages as a result of the amendment that was done to the Divorce Act of 1986 which allowed divorce after a separation period of one year instead of three years.


According to OECD (2011), China is one of the Asian countries with the highest fluctuation of divorce rates from the year 1995 to date. Other countries in that category are: Bangladesh, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, and Kyrgyzstan. Though there is no recent statistical record for divorce rates in all the Asian nations, a sample of a few countries can be used to suggest that divorce rates in Asia are fluctuating, but the overall trend shows a decline in the divorce rates.

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