The stability of your marriage may have nothing to do with the price of bread, gasoline or school supplies. However, there are a lot of researchers out there studying the effect of inflation and other negative economic factors like unemployment on divorce rates.
Even though financial issues are one of the primary reasons for marital discord, multiple studies have found that in times of inflation, divorce rates have dropped. Whether that’s because the challenges of living on a budget bring couples closer together or they simply can’t afford to get divorced and live in two separate homes depends on the individual couple.
One University of Virginia researcher who has studied the phenomenon says, “Financial distress has an ambiguous effect on families. For families facing a lot of personal financial stress, it can fuel marital conflict and instability. But, surprisingly, in the population at large, it makes people more appreciative of their family bonds, including their marriages.” Interestingly, divorce rates dropped in 1980, when inflation was at a record high, and during the recession of 2008.
Economic downturns affect people at all income levels
Even couples who don’t have to look at their grocery store receipts don’t escape economic downturns unscathed. Right now, they’re seeing stock prices plunge and their IRAs shrink. They may not be able to get nearly as much if they sell their home as they would have even a year ago. All of these things are considerations when you’re going to be dividing assets in a divorce.
Two other researchers at the University of Arizona found that marriages tend to become stronger when economic times are tough. They found that “married respondents are not only less likely to experience mental health problems but also less likely to experience these problems following declines in work-related income.” Of course, every marriage is highly unique.
Most all economic trends, whether positive or negative, turn around eventually. If you are going to be divorcing in the current economic climate (and many people are), it’s crucial to have experienced legal and financial guidance to help factor in changes to the value of your assets in the future and ensure that you’re getting a fair settlement.