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Weak economy may have caused dip in divorce rates

Divorce has been a part of many people's lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, and it will likely be part of many more people's lives in the future. But during the recession, there was a drop-off seen in the divorce rate and a new study says it is due to economics.

According to the study, divorce rates have been on the decline for some time. A sudden decrease was seen beginning in 2007. That was when the study found a rate of 17.5 divorces per 1,000 married women. That rate declined to 16.9 per 1,000 married women the next year. Before the sudden decrease in 2007, there was a considerable increase from 16.4 per 1,000 married women in 2005 to the aforementioned rate seen two years later.

According to researchers, the recession and the softening of the economy caused more people to stay together. Interestingly, this was often due to the increased likelihood of failure if couples went their separate ways.

The author of the study said that a decline in the value of major marital assets coupled with a decrease in the number of available job opportunities forced people to stay together. Splitting at such a time might have meant financial struggles for years to come so couples often chose to stay together. According to the report, the continued cohabitation of a separated couple likely caused emotional stress for both parties and children-if they were involved-as well.

An initial part of the study included a statistical model that examined data from 45 of the 50 U.S. states from 1978 to 2009. According to this model, divorce was more likely to happen when a couple had more disposable income. The recession minimized this for many couples and may have been the reason that fewer people got divorced during it. According to the report, as the economy began to recover, many couples went through with the divorces they had wanted while the recession was in full swing.

Source: Star Tribune, "Study: Divorce rate fell fast when recession hit," Adam Belz, Nov. 12, 2012

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