Report explodes the so-called link between divorce and recession

A report published by The Marriage Foundation has exploded the myth about a link between divorce rates and recession.

Whilst relationship charities have been claiming that an economic down turn can lead to an increase in divorces because of the strain that financial worries put on relationships, many lawyers have suggested that a recession keeps couples together as they can’t afford to divorce.

However, research carried out by the leading think-tank The Marriage Foundation, shows that there is simply no link at all between divorce rates and the economy.

Harry Benson from The Marriage Foundation said: “For every year since the 1970s – and across every duration of marriage, from ‘newlyweds’ through to ‘silver surfers’ – divorce rates have almost always stayed within plus or minus 10 per cent of the previous year’s figure.

“There is no evidence whatsoever to link either economic growth or stock market performance with changes in divorce rates.”

The Marriage Foundation’s research shows that in the three periods of recession since 1979, the number of divorce cases has risen in two periods and fallen in one.

During the 2008 economic crisis there was a slight decrease in the number of divorce cases, whilst during the recessions of 1980 and 1991, the number of divorces rose.

Likewise in times of economic growth, there is an entirely random fluctuation in divorce rates. 2003’s economic boom saw an overall increase of 5 per cent in the number of divorce cases compared to the previous year, whilst the boom of 1994 saw a fall of 3 per cent and 1983, a year of strong economic growth, saw no change at all.

Harry Benson says the confusion is all down to the failure of statisticians to compare like with like: “It is hard, if not impossible, to spot any kind of trend in each new year’s divorce rate figures because they combine the divorce rates of couples who have been together, say, two years with those who have been together twenty years.

“Even when you look at how divorce rates change from year to year by duration of marriage, you really can’t make any sense of the random peaks and fall.

“In 1991 for example, divorce rates fell 2 per cent for couple married 20 years, but rose 12 per cent for couples married 21 years. If this were linked to the economy, these figures would head in the same direction.

“To see the real trend, you need to follow the couples who marry in any particular year and compare how they fare over time against couples who married in other years. Only then can you see the real picture, which is that divorce rates are falling entirely because couples are doing better in the early years. For couples married ten years or more, divorce rates haven’t changed in decades.”

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