The sour economy and high unemployment rate has implications beyond the pocketbook. In terms of families, unemployment can cause major tension and strife. Interestingly, it does not affect the divorce rate the way you may think.
According to NPR, research shows that unemployment causes rifts within families. One study shows that more than a fifth of Americans out of work for a year say that their intimate relationships changed for the worse. At the same time, however, for every 1 percent increase in unemployment, there is a 1 percent decrease in the divorce rate.
So, what does that mean? It probably indicates that unemployed people struggling to make ends meet cannot afford to get divorced. There is apparently a historical precedent, according to one expert who studies the history of marriage. There was apparently a similar trend with the Great Depression and other volatile times.
The poor economy has another consequence: unemployment apparently increases the risk of domestic violence. According to NPR, one study looked at women who went to emergency rooms for injuries that were intentional and accidental. Of the women with intentional injuries, they were more likely to have been affected by unemployment in their families.
If what happened after the Great Depression is any indication, once the economy improves and people who have been resisting divorce can afford it, the divorce rate will go back up. Perhaps domestic violence will be on the decline, as well.
What do you think?
Source: NPR, “Marriage economy: ‘I couldn’t afford to get divorced,’” Shankar Vedantam, Dec. 20, 2011