Annulments Given At Higher Rate In Countries With Religious Competition

August 14, 1998

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- In countries where Catholics make up less than 50 precent of the population, significantly more marriage annulments are granted than in countries where the Catholic church dominates, says a new study to be presented August 24 at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association by Melissa Wilde of the UC-Berkeley Sociology department.

Analyzing Vatican data from 15 countries, Wilde found higher annulment rates in countries where the Catholic church is not subsidized or supported by the state, and in which Catholics make up less than 50 percent of the population (US, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands) compared with countries where the Catholic church is the dominant religion (Poland, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, the Philippines, Columbia, Germany and France).

"This suggests that the church uses annulments as a way to market themselves in competitive environments," Wilde said. "If they didn't grant annulments in countries like the U.S., they would lose members who would get married and raise their children in another church. In countries where the Catholic church is the only option, however, it can afford to be more conservative."

Annulment rates have risen since the Second Vatican Council made them easier to get. The rise has not been distributed evenly across countries, however. The largest rise of annulments since the 1960s has occurred in the U.S. Just 400 annulments were granted in 1968, but by 1978, the church handed out 45,000 (an increase of 11,250 percent). By 1983 the 67,000 annulments were granted in the United States. The number has leveled off since then, but still exceeds 60,000 annually.

Melissa Wilde is a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. She has an article forthcoming in EPOCHE: Journal for the Study of Religions, titled, "Annulment: Catholic Divorce in the US?," which focuses on the similarities between reforms in divorce legislation over the past century and subsequent annulment reform in the United States.

American Sociological Association

Related Population Articles from Brightsurf:

Population dynamics and the rise of empires in Inner Asia
In a new study published in Cell, researchers seek to understand the genetic, sociopolitical and cultural changes surrounding the formation of the eastern Eurasian Steppe's historic empires.

Estimating bisphenol exposures in the Australian population
Once found in bottles, food containers, cash register receipts and electronics, bisphenol A (BPA) has been phased out of many products because of health concerns and government regulations.

How will the population accept COVID-19 tracing apps?
Coronavirus tracing applications for the detection of infection chains are currently being developed and made available.

The Lancet: World population likely to shrink after mid-century, forecasting major shifts in global population and economic power
World's population likely to shrink after mid-century, forecasting major shifts in global population and economic power - new analysis, published in The Lancet forecasts global, regional, and national populations, mortality, fertility, and migration for 195 countries worldwide.

Planning for a growing elderly population
The fact that people are living longer lives represents one of the crowning achievements of the last century, but also requires careful planning on the part of governments.

Perpetual predator-prey population cycles
How can predators coexist with their prey over long periods without the predators completely depleting the resource that keeps them alive?

How Human Population came from our ability to cooperate
Humans' ability to cooperate during child-bearing years by sharing food, labor, and childcare duties is the story of population growth.

Population shift resulting in fewer homicides
People are living longer and fewer are having children. This has caused the 15-29 age group to shrink worldwide, a demographic responsible for majority of homicides.

Tommorow's population will be larger, heavier and eat more
Food demand is growing at the same time as people are getting bigger.

UK bumblebee population trends
Data collected by Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) volunteers to assess the country's changing bumblebee populations have been analyzed in a new way for the first time at the University of Kent -- and show mixed results about their decline, with cause for concern for two species.

Read More: Population News and Population Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to