Study finds that divorce rate rises as economy improves

BY Zachary Treu  January 28, 2014 at 12:07 PM EDT
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

More marriages are ending as the economy improves, a new sociological study shows. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

When it comes to the economy, American couples tend to stay together in sickness – but not in health. A new research study shows that the divorce rate has risen as the country slowly emerges from the Great Recession, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

The divorce rate dipped from 2.09 percent to 1.95 percent between 2008 and 2009, the Times says, before rising to 1.98 percent in 2010 and 2011.

‘This is exactly what happened in the 1930s,’ said Johns Hopkins University sociologist Andrew Cherlin. ‘The divorce rate dropped during the Great Depression not because people were happier with their marriages, but because they couldn’t afford to get divorced.’

According to Philip N. Cohen, the University of Maryland sociologist who conducted the research, recent state-by-state unemployment rates had little effect on divorce. He said that more research is needed to understand the correlation.

The study will be published in Population Research and Policy Review.

In 1997, David Gergen spoke with author Barbara Dafoe Whitehead about divorce culture in the United States on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.