Does mixed marriage by religion increase the risk of marital dissolution in Northern Ireland?
Wright, D.M., O'Reilly, D. & Rosato, M. (2014) BSPS Annual Conference 2014, Univ of Winchester, 8 - 10 September 2014. [NILS]
Risks of marital dissolution are often elevated when partners are dissimilar (e.g. by age, ethnicity or socioeconomic position) but may also depend on the social context of the marriage. Northern Ireland has a history of conflict and residential segregation along religio-cultural (Protestant-Catholic) lines and we investigated whether marriages crossing this social boundary were at increased risk of dissolution and whether risk was further elevated in the most segregated areas. We identified 115,465 married couples in the 2001 Census and estimated the risk of marital dissolution in the subsequent decade (indicators of dissolution were living apart or no longer married at the 2011 Census). Multilevel models were adjusted for age, education, economic activity, housing tenure, country of birth, history of previous marriages, presence of dependent children, housing tenure, urban/rural residence and degree of segregation. Risk of dissolution for non-mixed marriages was lowest within the most conservative religious groups and highest for people with no affiliation. Some types of mixed marriages had a slightly higher risk of dissolution than corresponding non-mixed marriages but this effect was weak for Protestant-Catholic marriages. Risk of dissolution for Protestant-Catholic marriages was independent of residential segregation but such marriages were rare and these couples were more likely to cohabit than other types of mixed couple (e.g. among Protestant denominations). Mixed relationships (both marriage and cohabitation) were more common among the young. Social barriers to interdenominational relationships remain in Northern Ireland, particularly along Protestant-Catholic lines but there are signs that cross-community relationships may become more common in future.