January 15, 2014

Does a Poor Economy Affect the Divorce Rate?

Economy and Divorce

“If you think it is expensive to get married, you should try divorcing…” is a sentiment that could be heard in Delray or the Palm Beaches.

Suzy Brown, contributor for About.com Divorce Support pages reports that researchers are trying to determine how the economy affects marriage, but finding a correlation is tricky. “Whether a downturn in the economy increases or decreases the likelihood of individuals divorcing depends on many factors.”

Sociologists from Ohio State University published a study in August 2012. They found that many couples cannot afford to divorce and increasing numbers are choosing long-term separations instead. Dmitry Tumin, co-author of the study said, "Separation may not be their first choice, but they may feel it is their best choice."

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Beginning in 1979, researchers surveyed 7,272 men and women age 14-22 and followed their marital life for nearly 30 years. Of married couples who separated during the study years, almost 80% reported getting divorced within 3 years.

Fifteen percent of separations didn't lead to divorce or reconciliation within 10 years. Couples in these long-term separations tended to be racial and ethnic minorities, have low family income and education, and have young children.

When Tumin and his co-author Zhenchao Qian compared this study to other research, they found this trend. “The number of people who choose separation seems to be declining, but the time spent in separation seems to be increasing.”

A separate Ohio State University study found that unemployed men are at a high risk for divorce. According to author Liana Sayer, “not being employed not only increases the chances that his wife will initiate divorce, but also that he will be the one who opts to leave. Even men who are relatively happy in their marriages are more likely to leave if they are not employed.”

Census reports on marriage have shown that states with the highest divorce rates are also the poorest. Data pointed out that men and women living in Southern states, where average incomes are lower than much of the country, had higher divorce rates. Even factoring out higher marriage rates for these states, 24/7 Wall St. reported “a high correlation between poverty and divorce.”

It’s clear that a challenged economy impacts divorce numbers. But how it impacts it seems to be in question. In some cases, couples are now opting for long term separations to save the money but mild disruption in economic stability may be increasing the likelihood of divorce.


Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss divorce in Florida, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A.The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. or call 561-478-0312.


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