Marital Disruption during the Great Recession: Divorce Filings in Five U.S. States

Julie E. Brines, University of Washington
Brian J. Serafini, University of Washington

The arrival of an economic crisis more severe than any since the Great Depression provides a unique opportunity for assessing the resilience of marriage as an institution in the 21st century U.S. This project makes use of ideas from sociology, the economics of the family, and behavioral economics to analyze the effects of changes in local labor and housing markets immediately before and during the Great Recession of 2007 – (?) on county-level rates of filing for divorce. Rates based on divorce petitions filed with county courts from the third quarter of 2005 – the third quarter of 2011 will be analyzed for five states -- Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, Ohio, and Washington State -- to examine how recession-driven changes in the environment create new uncertainties about employment and asset values that potentially upend wives’ or husbands’ perceptions of “gain” from marriage.

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Presented in Session 5: The Impact of Economic Recession on Family Behavior