Volume 36 - Article 50 | Pages 1515–1548

Divorce and separation in the Philippines: Trends and correlates

By Jeofrey Abalos

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Date received:27 Oct 2015
Date published:09 May 2017
Word count:6211
Keywords:divorce, Filipino women, Philippines, separation, trends and patterns, union dissolution
Weblink:You will find all publications in this Special Collection on “Separation, Divorce, Repartnering, and Remarriage around the World” here.


Background: The Philippines is the only country in the world, aside from the Vatican, where divorce is not legal. Despite the lack of divorce law in the country and the high costs of obtaining an annulment, recent data shows that a growing number of Filipinos dissolve their marital unions, either legally or informally.

Objective: I document the rise of union dissolution cases in the Philippines, and investigate the different factors associated with Filipino women’s experience of union dissolution.

Methods: Data is drawn from the two most recent rounds of the Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), conducted in 2008 and 2013. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression models are used in the analysis.

Results: Results reveal that education, type of first union, and childhood place of residence are significantly associated with being divorced or separated among women in the Philippines. Filipino women with higher levels of education, those who were cohabiting without ever marrying in their first union, and those who were raised in urban settings have higher risks of experiencing union dissolution than their counterparts. Religion and ethnicity are also associated with union breakdown among Filipino women.

Contribution: This paper demonstrates that the rise in union dissolution in the Philippines has not happened in isolation. It has to some extent been influenced by the changing character of union formation in the country, the prevailing legal system, a growing acceptance of divorce, increasing education for women, and increasing urbanization.

Author's Affiliation

Jeofrey Abalos - National University of Singapore, Singapore [Email]

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