A government sponsored report from the Economic and Social Research Council released this week suggests that although there are tentative signs of recovery in the economy, unemployment levels are likely to continue rising. It goes on to suggest that this will lead to a record number of divorces over the next two years.
However, I was surprised to learn that the UK divorce rate is currently at its lowest since 1981. And there is growing evidence that as the recession bites, with people losing their jobs, their homes and having to give up extravagant lifestyles, people are getting “back to basics” and investing more in personal relationships and in building a home.
A survey by NOISE (New Outlooks in Science & Engineering) last year found that just 4% of teenage girls interviewed want to be engineers in future (no huge surprise there!) but 12% dream of being housewives. There seems to be a resurgence of popularity in the 1950’s way of life, with women learning how to bake the perfect apple pie from Nigella Lawson and how to clean and tidy our homes properly from Anthea Turner and those two ‘How Clean is Your House?’ women on TV.
My generation of women (I’m in my early 30s) were sold the “having it all” idea – going to university, enjoying a successful career, making decent amounts of money, and having a happy marriage and children to boot. But we’ve found out that in reality, opportunities aren’t always perfect – IVF is at its highest rate ever, and lots of women in their late thirties/ early forties are finding out, after much expense and heartbreak, that they aren’t able to have it all.
Might we see an increase in marriage levels and a decline in divorce as people get nostalgic for all things domestic and put a greater emphasis on building a strong base at home rather than trying to be Miss Career Woman with the latest designer handbag?
According to the Office of National Statistics, marriage rates are at their lowest since records began in 1862. The Labour government has stripped away many of the tax benefits of marriage and the average age at which people marry for the first time has risen – 30 for women, 32 for men. Perhaps by promoting marriage and “back to basics” (with or without reports of Tory MPs sh*gging their secretaries), the Conservatives will help turn this around.