Volume 41 - Article 52 | Pages 1453–1478  

Capturing trends in Canadian divorce in an era without vital statistics

By Rachel Margolis, Youjin Choi, Feng Hou, Michael Haan


Background: Statistics Canada ceased publishing vital statistics on marriage and divorce in 2008, leaving a knowledge gap in these important demographic indicators.

Objective: This paper makes the methodological contribution of examining how best to operationalize divorce with tax data, and the substantive contribution of presenting recent trends in divorce in Canada.

Methods: We examine trends in divorce using both vital statistics and administrative tax data and compare them during the period for which they are available (through 2008). Then, using administrative tax data, we update trends in divorce through 2016. We examine overall, age-specific, and age-standardized trends in divorce.

Results: We document “gray divorce” from the 1990s through 2008 and then flat divorce rates for older adults and a continued decline in divorce for younger adults through 2016.

Conclusions: Tax data show a recent decline in divorce trends in Canada. However, there are important limitations to estimating divorce with tax data. We discuss data gaps and make suggestions for more accurate measures of union dissolution.

Contribution: Divorce is important for demographers to measure well, and this paper carefully examines recent trends and critically evaluates administrative data’s ability to fill the void left by the termination of vital statistics.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

The formal demography of kinship V: Kin loss, bereavement, and causes of death
Volume 49 - Article 41

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Changes in birth seasonality in Spain: Data from 1863–1870 and 1900–2021
Volume 49 - Article 35    | Keywords: Box-Jenkins method, Cosinor analysis, Fourier analysis, season of birth, seasonality, time series, vital statistics

Berkeley Unified Numident Mortality Database: Public administrative records for individual-level mortality research
Volume 47 - Article 5    | Keywords: administrative data, mortality, statistical methodology, United States of America

Measuring US fertility using administrative data from the Census Bureau
Volume 47 - Article 2    | Keywords: administrative data, census data, fertility, United States of America

How accurately do mothers recall prenatal visits and gestational age? A validation of Uruguayan survey data
Volume 43 - Article 51    | Keywords: household interviews, household surveys, premature births, prenatal visits, Uruguay, validation, vital statistics, weeks of gestation

Why does women’s education stabilize marriages? The role of marital attraction and barriers to divorce
Volume 38 - Article 41    | Keywords: barriers to divorce, discrete-time event history, divorce, divorce trends, education and divorce, marriage, social stratification, women's education