Divorce and separation in the Philippines: Trends and correlates

Jeofrey B. Abalos*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    BACKGROUND The Philippines is the only country in the world, aside from the Vatican, where divorce is not legal. Despite the lack of divorce law in the country and the high costs of obtaining an annulment, recent data shows that a growing number of Filipinos dissolve their marital unions, either legally or informally. OBJECTIVES I document the rise of union dissolution cases in the Philippines, and investigate the different factors associated with Filipino women's experience of union dissolution. METHODS Data is drawn from the two most recent rounds of the Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), conducted in 2008 and 2013. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression models are used in the analysis. RESULTS Results reveal that education, type of first union, and childhood place of residence are significantly associated with being divorced or separated among women in the Philippines. Filipino women with higher levels of education, those who were cohabiting without ever marrying in their first union, and those who were raised in urban settings have higher risks of experiencing union dissolution than their counterparts. Religion and ethnicity are also associated with union breakdown among Filipino women. CONTRIBUTION This paper demonstrates that the rise in union dissolution in the Philippines has not happened in isolation. It has to some extent been influenced by the changing character of union formation in the country, the prevailing legal system, a growing acceptance of divorce, increasing education for women, and increasing urbanization.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1515-1548
    Number of pages34
    JournalDemographic Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2017


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