Volume 34 - Article 33 | Pages 927–942  

More education, fewer divorces? Shifting education differentials of divorce in Taiwan from 1975 to 2010

By Yen-Hsin Alice Cheng


Background: While social gradient in divorce has been explored in many Western societies, this issue has received less attention in Asia.

Objective: Few existing studies offer evidence for how educational gradient in divorce shift from positive to negative in Asia. This study explores the changing divorce patterns by education for both sexes over the past four decades in Taiwan.

Methods: Vital statistics of divorce since 1975 were used. Divorce rates were calculated and a synthetic cohort life table was also constructed to estimate the proportions of unions that remain intact with the duration-specific divorce rates observed in 2010. A separate life table estimating the actual marriage survivorship for the 1998 marriage cohort was also presented.

Results: As Taiwan went through industrialization, the period findings show that a reversal in educational differential in divorce from positive to negative is observed for both sexes. Now the least educated men and women have become more vulnerable to union instability. Finally, synthetic cohort life table estimates indicate substantial educational differences in the proportions of recent marriages ending in divorce.

Conclusions: The drastic increase in period divorce rates is accompanied by a reversal of educational gradient and expanding social inequality. Social gap in divorce rates expanded much faster among men than women across years. Given that remarriage rates for the disadvantaged are lower than the better educated, these patterns indicate that the disadvantaged is likely to spend an increasingly large proportion of their lives outside a marital union.

Contribution: The divorce patterns revealed have critical implications for single-parent families, as well as family policies and social assistance.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Demographic change and increasing late singlehood in East Asia, 2010–2050
Volume 43 - Article 46

Changing partner choice and marriage propensities by education in post-industrial Taiwan, 2000-2010
Volume 31 - Article 33

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