In response to our recent string of posts regarding the “Natural Rate of Divorce”, a commenter asked an interesting question: how might an examination of the situation in the Philippines shed some light on the topic? The Philippines, after all, is the only nation in the world, apart from the Vatican, where divorce continues to be entirely legally verboten. So how do Filipinos route around this, and how has the law affected the country’s social and economic fortunes?
We’ll start by tackling the latter question, and get to the former later in the week. While it’s obviously nigh impossible to quantify the misery endured by men or women trapped in failing marriages, the enforced stability of the institution is not without its financial benefits. As argued here, the Philippines resistance to divorce may contribute mightily to the nation’s ability to send workers abroad:
Overseas Filipino Workers working in advanced Western nations are witnesses to the deterioration of the family through divorce. I hope that our OFWs will be the very first ones to insist that we should always keep in our Constitution the statement that “marriage is an inviolable institution.” A stable and happy family is the very reason why OFWs sacrifice some of the best years of their lives literally slaving in some foreign country just to eke out a decent living for their loved ones. There are no so-called humanitarian reasons that should ever make us embrace the deadly consequences of divorce.
In other words, OFWs wouldn’t be so quick to spend years building skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi if they knew the missus back in Tagaytay might abandon them at any moment. And perhaps that’s part of the reason why OFWs are such might economic engines, accounting for a full eighth of the Philippines’ gross domestic product.
More on Filipino divorce later in the week. As you might have guessed, there are ways around that supposedly iron-clad constitutional stipulation.