On the magnitude, frequency, and nature of marriage dissolution in Italy: insights from vital statistics and life-table analysis

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Abstract

Legal separation is a crucial step in the dissolving of marriages in Italy. Marriage and legal separation data come from administrative data sources and have been part of the civil registration and vital statistics system for a long time. These data make it possible to constantly monitor evolution of marital unions formation and dissolution over time and space. This study highlights the potential of combining administrative data at a macro level, aggregated by selected characteristics of the marriage and of the spouses. Data collection on legal separations is a complex process that brings together records from different administrative sources that have different transmission procedures. The system has rapidly evolved in recent years because of important normative changes. Pooling the two exhaustive data sources on marriages and separations we calculate duration-specific separation rates by selected spouses’ and wedding characteristics and estimate survival curves for 1975 marriage cohorts onward. Although the propensity to separate is increasing across marriage cohorts, the most recent first-marriage cohorts—those celebrated since the beginning of the new millennium—show a decreasing tendency to separate after short marriage durations. The most fragile unions are those celebrated in a civil ceremony in the north of Italy and that choose the separation of property regime. Couples in which the bride is more educated than the groom show a higher risk of separating. Differences by geographical area and celebration rite tend to reduce over time. This study contributes to existing information about the propensity to separate in Italy and the role that some characteristics of weddings and spouses play. It shows the potential for integrating information from marriage and separation registers when dealing with a relatively rare phenomenon at the population level and with information not usually collected in social surveys.

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Guarneri, A., Rinesi, F., Fraboni, R., & De Rose, A. (2021). On the magnitude, frequency, and nature of marriage dissolution in Italy: insights from vital statistics and life-table analysis. Genus, 77(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41118-021-00138-2

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