If you ever wondered how many Canadians get married each year and how many get divorced and in which provinces or what the median age is for both ventures then this is the time to find out because soon the information will be more difficult to find.
Both the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star report that Statistics Canada, the federal agency that collects and analyzes a variety of data relating to Canadian life, has announced it is dropping marriage and divorce rates from its data collection roster.
The loss of a comprehensive national view on marriage and divorce will break a chain stretching back nearly 100 years in the case of marriage (the agency has been collecting marriage stats since 1921 and divorce data since 1972, says the Globe and Mail).
Cost is one reason why the information is being cut. It reportedly costs about $250,000 to maintain the collection and the agency is constrained by budget concerns.
Though the agency hasn’t announced any more changes, there are fears among some that marriage and divorce rates won’t be the only statistics to get the chop in the future for lack of funds.
The increasingly flexible nature of long-term relationships and the popularity of common-law relationships among Canadians may be another factor in why the agency is cutting back on counting marriage and divorce, apparently. Though by losing a clearer sense of marriage and divorce rates it seems that marking that difference may be even harder to track going forward. (StatsCan began counting common law relationships in 1981.)
Marriage and divorce stats are a valuable resource to researchers and policy makers who rely on the information to establish suggestions for change in a range of social issues from poverty to health care. How StatsCan’s announcement will affect these areas in the future remains to be seen.
The information isn’t totally lost. Provincial governments still collect marriage info and the justice department counts divorces, but there is no national body that brings all the information together to form a complete picture of marriage and divorce for all Canadians.
Do you think it’s a mistake to lose this valuable information?