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Divorce and the economy, part 1: after the Great Recession

It is no secret that divorce rates are affected by economic conditions.

During the depth of the Great Recession, it became more difficult to get divorced. With so many couples struggling financially, trying to maintain two households instead of one simply wasn’t as feasible as it once had been.

In Florida and across the nation, unhappily married couples confronted this changed reality. It affected many people suffering from job loss or whose family businesses were struggling.

In more recent years, however, the number of divorces is going up back up again as the economy slowing improves. We will discuss that development in this two-part post.

The numbers are quite striking and the timeline is clear.

The recession officially ended in 2009. In 2010, the number of divorces rose. They were up again in 2011 and again in 2012. Nationally, there were about 2.4 million divorces in 2012.

Of course, the causal factors that contribute divorce in particular cases are many and various. But in terms of broad sociological factors, the outlines of the trend toward renewed interest in divorce are clear.

Indeed, divorce isn’t the only significant family-related event that has seen an increase since the economy started picking up again. The birth rate has been going up as well around the country.

Sociologists who study divorce rates offer even more perspective. They note that in the four decades from 1940 to 1981, the divorce rate essentially doubled. But then, from 1981 to the end of the Great Recession it declined by about a third.

Now, however, divorce rates are headed up again. This has contributed to remarkable increase in new households from 2010 to 2013. During those four years, the number of households in the nation rose by nearly 5.3 million.

Source: Bloomberg, “Worsening U.S. Divorce Rate Points to Improving Economy,” Steve Matthews, Feb. 18, 2014