Unemployment And Divorce, The Surprising Connection
I’d hate to think that when someone has lost their job their also faced with a possible divorce. In the past that often happened, however is it true today?
When Penn State sociology professors Paul Amato and Brett Beattie began studying the repercussions of unemployment on marriage in the aftermath of the Great Recession, they expected to find that joblessness destabilizes marriage.
But, after analyzing data from all 50 states between 1960 and 2005, Amato and Beattie were surprised. Prior to 1980, when unemployment numbers spiked, divorce followed suit. But, since the 1980s, when unemployment rates have risen, divorce rates have dropped. In March 2007, before the bubble burst, 4.6 percent of the labor force was unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Three years later, the unemployment rate jumped to 10.2 percent. Divorce, on the other hand, decreased by 1.4 percent between 2007 and 2008, according to the report, and then by another 2.8 percent between 2008 and 2009.
While these results could indicate that couples pull together in times of crisis, experts are less sure.
“Since the 1980s, the standard of living for, not single people, but married couples has gone up substantially,” Amato said. Family homes have increased in size, cars per household are on the rise and the steady integration of women in the workforce has added an extra income to the family pot. “Some research has shown that even though standards of living have increased, their satisfaction hasn’t increased at all,” Amato continued, speculating that divorce decreases when unemployment rates climb because couples are not ready to give up their standard of living by having to pay for one extra household with one less salary. “They wait; they put it off,” he said.