Divorce Rates May Rise for Some During Recession


Divorce attorneys in Pasadena are serving their clients under the backdrop of a deep recession. A new paper, titled "For Better or for Worse, But How About a Recession?," tries to explore the effect of recession on divorce rates.

Some forces that act on marriage are said to be "procyclical" or "countercyclical." For example, a weak economy causes difficulty in a marriage, for obvious reasons, which could lead to a break-up. However, a strong economy increases the earning potential of each spouse, increasing independence, which could make it easier to split up, as well. Each of these forces could lend itself to a willingness to break marital ties.

The authors of the paper, Jeremy Arkes and Yu-Chu Shen, are both of the Naval Post-graduate School in Monterrey, California. Here are some of the interesting conclusions from their paper:

"For couples in years six to 10 of marriage, it appears that the financial strain from weak economic periods has a greater toll on the marriage, as the countercyclical forces dominate the procyclical forces," Arkes and Shen write. "For couples in their first five years of marriage, perhaps some of these effects cancel each other out or are very small. We speculate that young couples would be less likely to have children and less likely to have mortgage payments, so they may be able to better withstand unemployment experiences.

"For couples married more than 15 years, there are two potential explanations for their ability to withstand the economic crisis," they note. "First, it is possible that marriages that last that as long as 10 years are stable enough that they would not be affected by financial problems. Second, these older couples would have more expensive housing needs (from having children and higher standards as they get older), so that the weak economy affects the affordability of divorces more for couples in this category, perhaps counteracting the effects of the financial strain when the economy is weak."

"The main point from this research, however, is that the current economic crisis is probably not affecting the stability of marriage for newly-married or long-lasting couples, but the economic crisis is likely causing more divorces for couples in years six to 10 of marriage," they conclude.