Whose Marriage Is More Resistant to the Risk of Divorce in Turkey: Self-Choice Marriages or Family-Choice Marriages?

Melike Saraç, Hacettepe University
İsmet Koç, Hacettepe University Institute of Population Studies

Although during the last 10 years, the number of marriages has decreased by 6 percent, almost 97 percent of women still marry by age 50 with a slight delay the timing of the marriage. Analysis on the basis of marriage cohorts puts forward that self-choice marriages are on the rise and family-choice marriages, regardless of women’s consent are on the decrease significantly in Turkey. On the other hand, number of divorces has increased by 41 percent during the last 10 years. The study focuses on marital stability in Turkey, and asks the question on which type of marriage is much more resistant, self-choice marriage or family-choice marriage, to the risk of divorce. The analyses suggest that family-choice marriages are less resistant to the risk of divorce compared to self-choice marriage. Our finding confirms Goode''s classic thesis about the social diffusion of divorce. Divorce in Turkey appears to be getting much more frequent event among couples in lower segments of the society. In this regard, the risk of divorce is 1.5 times higher among couples married with family decision as opposed to couples married with self-choice under the control of all possible covariates. The higher risk of divorce may be related with the facts that (1) the duration between positive response of female’s family with a small celebration and official marriage at the registry office is shorter (2) the contact between prospective couples is limited in family-choice marriages than the frequency of contact observed in self-choice marriages. Furthermore, as literature points out that the conflicts on marital issues between couples in family-choice marriages are significantly higher than the couples in self-choice marriages, as we found higher emotional violence against women in family-choice marriages. All these factors seem to be negative impacts on the marital stability of couples particularly in arranged marriages.

Introduction

Althoughduring the last 10 years, the number of marriages has decreased by 6 percent, almost97 percent of women still marry by age 50 with a slight delay the timing of themarriage in Turkey. Analysis on the basis of marriage cohorts puts forward thatself-choice marriages are on the rise and family-choice marriages, regardlessof women’s consent are on the decrease significantly in Turkey. On the otherhand, the divorce rates are on the rise in Turkey; number of divorces hasincreased by 41 percent during the last 10 years (TURKSTAT, 2015).

Objectives

The study focuses on the role of the spousal choice on the maritaldissolution in Turkey. In this regard, main research question of the study isto ask the question on which type of marriage is much more resistant,self-choice marriage or family-choice marriage, to the risk of divorce.

 

Theoretical Framework

Thetheory proposed by Goode on the social diffusion of divorce will be themain thesis of the study. Goode (1951; 1962; 1993) argued that in times whendivorce was rare, it would primarily be the members of the elite in a societywho experienced the break-up of a marriage. When legal and normative barriersagainst divorce are lifted, divorce becomes more common and the lower classeswould also begin to experience divorce. We also argue here that divorce inTurkey is becoming much more common among couples with family-choice marriages,when we follow the divorce experiences.

 

DataSource and Methodology

Thedata are from five demographic surveys conducted in the period of 1993-2013. A seriesof logistic regression models for the risk of divorce will be used in the studyin 6 different stages of estimations.  We look at the impact of the maritalarrangements on the marital dissolution as an indicator of the resistance ofthe marriage under the control of other covariates such as educational level,working status, age at first marriage, marriage cohorts, number of children,age difference between couples, bride price, ceremony type, consanguinity,property ownership, index for emotional violence, index for religiosity,frequency of having dinner outside home, and wealth index. Marital arrangementswere categorized as family-choice marriages (family arranged with women’sconsent and family arranged without women’s consent), self-choice marriages andother marriages (eloped/abducted/other) during the all analyses.

 

Table 1. Percentage ofFamily-Choice Marriages by Marriage Cohorts and Surveys

Marriage cohorts

1993

1998

2003

2008

2013

All

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1974-1978

70.9

66.4

68.9

71.5

95.5

69.3

1979-1983

68.2

65.5

65.8

68.5

74.6

67.4

1984-1988

64.2

61.1

59.2

63.8

66.3

62.6

1989-1993

56.7

50.6

54.6

59.3

59.4

56.0

1994-1998

-

43.0

45.4

47.9

52.2

47.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

67.8

58.1

54.8

52.2

47.7

55.8

Findings

Thedescriptive analysis conducted on the basis of marriage cohorts from pooleddata set puts forward the frequency of family-choice marriages has beendeclined by almost 65 percent from 76 percent in the 1974-79 marriage cohort to27 percent in the 1990-94 marriage cohort (Table 1). On the other hand, thepercentage of divorced women has increased from 3.7 percent to 5.7 percent forthe same marriage cohorts. Divorce rates are in an increasing trend based onthe survey years from 1.6 percent in 1993 to 7.1  percent in 2013. Both of thedescriptive and multivariate analyses suggest that family-choice marriages aremuch less resistant to the risk of divorce, compared to self-choice marriage.The risk of divorce is found to be 1.5 times higher among couples married withfamily decision as opposed to couples married with self-choice under thecontrol of all possible covariates (Table 2).

 

 

Table 2. Final Logistic Regression Modelfor the Risk of Divorce

Marital choice

Odds Ratio

Significance level

Family-choice marriage

1.518

p<0.01

Self-choice marriage (Reference)

1.000

-

Eloped/Abducted/Other

2.696

p<0.01

 

 

 

Nagelkerke R Square

0.409


 

Conclusions

Ourfinding confirms Goode''s classic thesis about the social diffusion of divorce. Divorcein Turkey appears to be getting much more frequent event among couples in lowersegments of the society.  In this regard, the risk of divorce was found to behigher significantly among family-choice marriages compared with self-choicemarriages. Furthermore, as mentioned by Tekce (2004) and Aybek and others(2015) the higher risk of divorce may be related with the facts that (1) theduration between söz kesme (positive response ofthe female’s family with a small celebration) and nikah(official marriage at the registry office) is shorter;(2) then the contact between prospective couples is limited in family-choice marriages.Furthermore, Hortaçsu (1999; 2007) points out that the conflicts on marital issuesbetween couples in family-choice marriages are significantly higher than thecouples in self-choice marriages, as we found higher emotional violence againstwomen in family-choice marriages.

 

 

Presented in Session 1108: Families and Households