New legislation and a different outlook on life have contributed in recent years to a sharp rise in divorces in Brazil as well as a decline in marriages. Just-released data from the IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e EstatísticaBrazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) show that between 1991 and 1998 there was a 32.5 percent increase in the number of judicial separations and divorces (which in Brazil may occur one year after legal separation or two years after a "de facto" separation).
The average increase in divorces for the whole country was 29.7 percent in the period studied. This hike, however, was much bigger in the Midwest (52.6 percent) and the North (99 percent). Commenting on this phenomenon, Antônio Tadeu Ribeiro de Oliveira (email@example.com), manager of Vital Projects from IBGE's DPIS (Departamento de População e Indicadores SociaisDepartment of Population and Social Indicators) told reporters: "I believe that the implementation of the 1988 Constitution, which established clear rules for divorces, stimulated the increase of divorce petitions in the country."
In 1991, for each 100 marriages there were 21.2 break ups. Seven years later this number had increased to 28.2 separations for every 100 marriages. In '94, 763,000 couples married. In 1998 the number of new unions had fallen to 699,000.
The IBGE's study also dispels the myth that May, the traditional "fiancée's month" is the period in which most couples marry. While May continues to be the favorite month for weddings, December is the month in which most marriages occur due to the fact that workers in Brazil receive their salaries in double at the end of the year. This mandatory year-end bonus is called décimo terceiro salário (thirteenth salary).
According to Oliveira, there has been a change of attitude brought in by new perceptions in society. Says he, "Our study shows that we are having a change of habits in Brazil. In the old days, that couple that decided to live together without marrying or that woman who tried to divorce were frowned upon."