«Divorce and Recession: Interrelation and Impact» - Free Essay Paper

Divorce and Recession: Interrelation and Impact

Introduction and Significance of the Study

The rates of divorce in the US have increased dramatically recently. There are numerous theories aimed at explicating the occurrence of divorce and aligning it with such key reasons as recession and economic conditions. According to the preliminary research, the issue in question is controversial and miscellaneous due to the following reasons: on the one hand, the recession impacts marriage stability negatively as it hardens the burden of mutual responsibilities, financial status and instills the atmosphere of despair and disappointment both in life in general and in each spouse in particular, whereas, on the other hand, the threat of foreclosures and survival issues (especially, for women who have children) may decrease the incidence of divorce. This paper investigates the relationship between the period of recession and divorce rates in the United States. Primarily, the paper seeks to answer the question: does the number of divorces increase during hard economic times? The course of analysis indicates that the rate of divorce actually decreases during recession and increases during recovery and boom times.

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Financial hardship is one of the major causes of marital problems (Amato 561). The increasing cost of living, reduction in salaries and actual or potential loss of jobs are just some of the consequences of complicated economic tendencies. Nevertheless, contrary to traditionally presupposed opinion that the increase in recession may lead to increased divorce rates, the opposite tendency is actually true. There are several explanations to this statement. The first one is related to the costs associated with divorce. Analysts explain that hard economic times dissuade married couples from filing for a divorce because there are significant costs involved in the venture (Cohen 1). Nonetheless, their expectations may also turn out to be ungrounded, and subsequently, the fees will be doubled due to attorney fees, forfeited healthcare insurances, retirement plans and diminished economy of scales due to separation. Furthermore, a recession causes undervaluation of assets and increases unemployment rates (Cohen 2). It becomes expensive to buy a spouse out of the family house or pay off his or her insurance plan. Therefore, many couples opt to stick together. The second explanation that is less popular and feasible, but still relevant in the given context, is that hard economic times strengthen the family bonds. It is a rare tendency, but a potentially probable one. A couple with irreconcilable differences is forced to find ways to pull together in order to survive a recession.

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Nevertheless, it is important to note that economic hardship and recession are not the primary reasons that increase the divorce rates (Amato 569). Though, they play crucial role in decision making and should be taken into consideration. Therefore, the paper examines raw data during the recession period between 2008 and 2011 in order to provide sufficient time to observe the tendency and change dynamics. The significance of this research is that it will ascertain, using raw data, whether divorce cases are related to hard economic times. Moreover, it will provide a pedestal upon which more detailed researches on divorce rates and recession can be conducted.

Data and Methods

The data that is to be analyzed in the current study is represented by the following variables: divorce rate, recession development, and time constraint. The data that will be used for the course of assessment and discussion is accessed through IPUMS database. Actually, the factual data concerning divorce rates is obtained from the American Community Survey (ACS) for the period of 2008-2011. This annual survey deals with more than 2 million families living in the United States, weighted to represent the national population. Therefore, it is considered to be a proper and reliable ground for the current scope of discussion.

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Moreover, the sampling criteria for the target audience are as follows: the age group includes females aged 20 and above; the women are either currently married or have divorced within the last twelve months; they are permanent residents of the United States for at least one year (Ruggles et al.). Furthermore, an essential factor to take into consideration is the financial condition of the target audience. The chosen women are medium income earners in order to increase the objectivity of the study and to avoid potential extreme views and subsequent outcomes of the investigation. Finally, the area of research covers fifty states. Hence, this study is conducted on the national level. Following such criteria provides a wholesome approach to the study and its potential feasibility. The time is restricted to the period between 2008 and 2011. To be more precise, the selected time frame has been selected with the purposeful intention to illustrate the impact of both recession culmination and recession decline on the divorce rates. Moreover, the period is sufficient to demonstrate actual changes and generalize the outcomes into a feasible conclusion that will serve as a perspective basis for further researches in the field of interest.

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The ACS provides the following factual data in the field of concern: in 2008 there were 1,309,921 women who got divorced, whereas in 2009 there was a comparative decrease in the currently discussed tendency with 1,219,656 divorced women. In 2010 the figure increased to 1,250,086, and in 2011- to 1,251,238. The preliminary general comparison provides sufficient background for making conclusions.

The methodology that will be applied in the current study for interpretation and assessment of the primary data is a line graph. This methodology permits to arrange the variables and to align them in order to demonstrate the course of changes in terms of development, either progressive, or regressive, over the chosen period of time. Due to such an approach the given methodology guarantees a consistent and constructive comparison of the development on each time stage, and reveals the key trends eventually. Furthermore, the scale of the change is vividly demonstrated by means of the line graph. Therefore, it is relevant to use this method in the given study.

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The decrease in the aforementioned divorce rates is not tremendous, but it indicates a particular direction of changes in the occurrence of the issue in question. It is also appropriate to underline that the course of change was not gradual, but reveals a dramatic alteration during the period 2008-2009 that was followed by a significant increase in 2010 and consequent relative stabilization of the divorce rates in 2011. Such a tendency is aligned with the recession that escalated during the given period of time. Actually, the course of recession predetermines such tendencies and influential factors as unemployment, low salaries, insufficient governmental support, poor life conditions and sordid standards. These factors impact family life and marriage stability directly and, as a rule, negatively. They may lead either to quarrels and serious problems or to improvement of the bond between partners. Actually, the instability of the divorce rates as it has been demonstrated by the factual data obtained from the ACS may be aligned with the aforementioned tendencies. Nonetheless, this inconsistency may be also explained by such factors as less number of marriages in general during the selected period, or different nature of a marital bond. Therefore, the current study is significantly limited by the lack of background data and potential influence on the final decision, namely, decision of partners to get divorced. Moreover, the limitation is connected with the potential error that usually happens in such studies.

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The Figure 1 vividly illustrates a decrease in divorce rates that approximately coincides with the recession progress and a decline as it has been revealed in the course of the preliminary study. According to it, the highest peak of the recession was observed in 2008-2009. This period is characterized by high rates of divorce in 2008 and dramatic decrease in 2009 which means that the hard times apparently contribute to strengthening of the bond between married couples. According to the calculations, the divorce rates fell from 20.9 per 1,000 married women in 2008 to 19.5 in 2009 (Ruggles et al). In 2010 the rate was 19.8. This outcome remained practically the same in 2011.


Thus, the present study reveals that the hard times improve the bond between family members, and lead to a significant decrease in divorce rates. Nevertheless, the real reasons for such a tendency may be diverse. Therefore, this study may be recommended as a premise for further investigation in the field of concern.

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