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Second marriages less likely to end in divorce than first marriages, Marriage Foundation reports

‘Age is the most reliable predictor of marriage success,’ suggests report

The Marriage Foundation think-tank has produced a report indicating that second marriages are more stable than first marriages.

According to Second Marriage: Triumph of Decision over Hope?, almost half – 45 per cent – of couples who marry for the first time in 2013 will divorce. However, divorced couples who marry for the second time have only a 31% chance of their marriage ending in divorce, according to Harry Benson, Communications Director at The Marriage Foundation and author of the report.

Commenting on the findings, Mr Benson said:

"Second marriages are generally more successful than first marriages because couples who get married for the second time are invariably older than those marrying for the first time."

The report suggests that the age of the married couple is the most reliable predictor of whether the marriage will stand the test of time.

The increased affluence of couples entering second marriages was cited as one reason why older couples had a better likelihood of making their marriage work over younger newlyweds. Other factors that may influence the outcome of a first marriage, such as education and prior cohabitation, are less influential the second time around, according to Mr Benson.

He continued:

"Reduced social and family pressure for men who marry the second time around is also a factor in the reduced divorce rate of second marriages."

For both first and second marriages, differences in occupation, ethnicity and income are all factors that have been proven to increase the likelihood of the marriage ending in divorce, but their influence was less pronounced in second marriages.

Other interesting findings from the report include a gender gap in second marriages, with husbands in particular doing better in marriage the second time around – although the gap is narrowing. 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) does not currently distinguish between first and second marriages, only the overall rate of divorce among all couples, prompting The Marriage Foundation to look at divorce statistics in greater detail.

The Marriage Foundation report can be read here.