Why Most Women Re-marry Quickly After Divorce Or Widowhood

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Divorced WomenMost African women remarry swiftly after divorce or widowhood, defying declining rates.

A recent report from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Germany has highlighted a remarkable trend among women in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite declining rates of divorce and widowhood, the majority of women in the region are quick to remarry after experiencing the dissolution of their unions.

The study, which analyzed data from 34 Sub-Saharan African countries over the past four decades, revealed that more than 20% of first unions end within 15 years.

This frequent union dissolution occurs relatively early during reproductive ages, with an average marriage duration at first dissolution ranging from 4.8 to 9.4 years.

What sets this trend apart is the rapidity of remarriage. Women across all countries examined tend to enter new unions swiftly following divorce or widowhood.

The average time between the dissolution of a marriage and the start of a subsequent union ranges from 0.2 to 2.9 years.

The report also unveiled regional disparities. While union dissolution rates are relatively low and occur at older ages in West Africa, women in this region exhibit a high propensity to remarry quickly. On the other hand, East and Central Africa experience slightly longer periods outside of unions before remarriage.

Ben Malinga John, a PhD-Student at MPIDR, emphasized the significance of these findings.

“The timing of union dissolution points to the ages at which women and their children are vulnerable to complex family structures, which can lead to adverse socioeconomic and health outcomes,” he stated.

However, the report acknowledges a challenge: the lack of comprehensive data on union dissolution timing and the reproductive years “lost” due to these dissolutions.

This knowledge gap hampers a full understanding of the phenomenon. The researchers recommend innovative approaches, like the indirect demographic techniques used in this study, to bridge this gap and advance research in this vital area.

The study’s data was drawn from almost 140 waves of Demographic and Health Surveys conducted between 1986 and 2019, covering 34 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Over 20% of initial unions end within 15 years, prompting rapid remarriage. The report covers data from 34 countries over four decades.



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