One in three Iranian marriages now end in divorce, according to analysis of official figures by Iran Open Data. In 2019/20 the number of officially-registered marriages increased by 4.4 percent to 556,731, but in the same year the divorce rate also jumped by 3.6 percent, with 183,193 Iranian couples separating in the space of 12 months. For every 100 marriages registered last year, 32.9 ended in divorce.
Figures released by the Statistical Center of Iran last autumn also showed that for every 100 marriages registered last year, 32.9 divorces occurred. Of the marriages that had ended in divorce that year, 51,270 had lasted one to five years while 11,715 lasted for just one year.
Iran Open Data also examined the latest province-level data published in the first half of 2020 by the Civil Registration Organization. This showed that Tehran – predictably for a populous province home to the capital city – recorded the highest number of both marriages and divorces, at 34,451 and 15,303 respectively, in the space of six months.
But researchers stressed the numerical values alone were not useful indicators because of the differences in local population size. Instead, they added a “population variable” to the data for each province. This revealed the marriage rate in early 2020 was actually highest in some of Iran’s border regions, including North Khorasan, South Khorasan and Sistan and Baluchistan to the east, and Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, Lorestan and Kermanshah to the west. The province with the lowest number of marriages relative to population size was Alborz, followed by Semnan and Qom.
Iran Open Data also established the “divorce-to-marriage” ratio for each province. This shows how many divorces have occurred for every 100 marriages. In the first half of 2020 the ratio stood at 28.7 percent for the whole of Iran. Alborz province had the highest ratio, at 46.1 percent, followed by Tehran and Mazandaran at 44 and 42 percent.
Meanwhile, Sistan and Baluchestan recorded the lowest ratio of divorces per marriage, at just 6.5 percent. Other provinces with low divorce-to-marriage ratios included Sistan and Baluchistan, Charmahal and Bakhtiari, and Ilam.
Numerous scholars have pointed to direct links between socio-political and economic factors and the marriage and divorce rate in a given area. Researchers at Iran Open Data tried to probe whether local unemployment rates in particular had an impact on the marriage-to-divorce ratio, but could not establish a clear pattern: unemployment in Tehran, for instance, was comparatively low in early 2020 but the divorce ratio was still high, while Charmahal and Bakhtiari had a higher unemployment rate but one of the lowest divorce-to-marriage ratios.
More detailed and accurate data would be necessary, they concluded, and “At the same time, culture, traditions, and indigenous or religious doctrines create such unbending characterizations around marriage and divorce that it may not be possible to easily explain the relationship between marriage and divorce and economic indicators.”