Divorces Drop Along with Housing Prices

The financial crisis has had one silver lining: fewer divorces.  Josie Cox for Reuters:

Fewer British couples are filing for divorce as the sharp drop in property prices makes it hard for couples to sell a joint home and the credit crunch dampens a desire to fund two separate households, according to a study on Monday.

The study, published by Grant Thornton accountants, showed that almost half of all surveyed matrimonial lawyers believe the numbers of divorces has slumped — and will continue to do so — because of the financial squeeze.


Data published by the Office for National Statistics earlier this year showed that the number of people getting divorced fell from 12.2 per 1,000 couples in 2006 to 11.9 in 2007, and is currently at a 26-year low.

The survey also found newlyweds are increasingly eager to settle financial agreements ahead of tying the knot, and are steering away from pre-nuptial “lump sum agreements” which do not take the falling value of assets into account. “I can only imagine that this trend will continue to rise particularly in an economic downturn when people feel increasingly vulnerable about their financial position,” said Kerr.

Of course, another way of looking at this is that bad economic times have trapped people in bad marriages.  But there are doubtless large numbers of people with unrealistic expectations of married life who will bail on the relationship as soon as the going gets rough, especially if getting a fresh start is easy.  Which of the two is most dominant here is impossible to say based on the above report and the study is not currently available on the Grant Thornton site.

Photo by Flickr user jcoterhals under Creative Commons license.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. SV says:

    LOL. I want to see statistics on domestic violence rates during a recession.

    Drinking definitely goes up + bad marriages = strong social fabric eh?

  2. odograph says:

    A couple other possibilities:

    1. common adversity is a binding agent

    2. a person who is unhappy may mentally name the economy and not husband/wife as the cause

  3. Eric Florack says:

    common adversity is a binding agent

    I know that’s certainly true among my curcle of freinds, who have had problems.

  4. Mithras says:

    Just because people aren’t filing for divorce doesn’t mean they’re not splitting up and moving out of the house. It just means they can’t afford to file the papers.

  5. PD Shaw says:

    I don’t know if this follows my anecdotal observations, consisting of variations of the following:

    men losing jobs and attempting to conceal it from the spouse;
    men losing jobs and not getting a new job;
    women feeling economically at risk from husband’s behavior.

  6. odograph says:

    PD, Calculated Risk has a graph of employment to population:


    I suspect that the percentage of families with women as sole breadwinner is climbing. Check the original report:


    The unemployment rate for adult women is lower than that for adult men.

  7. PD Shaw says:

    I should add that just because someone hasn’t filed for a divorce doesn’t mean that they haven’t contacted a divorce attorney or a financial planner to strategize a divorce. Divorce might be a lagging indicator.

  8. Eric Florack says:

    Am I the only one more than slightly creeped out by that pic?

  9. PD Shaw says:

    Am I the only one more than slightly creeped out by that pic?

    Not at all, though originally I thought it was the middle finger that had been severed, which would have been rich in Freudian imagery. Is this a mirror image of the left hand?

  10. Eric Florack says:

    (Photo by Tolkien Photography)

  11. DL says:

    Whoops! Isn’t that ring finger supposed to be on the left hand?

    It’s all about committment which selfish individualism, the me generation and self-esteem have helped destroy -radical feminism has completed the dissection.

  12. An Interested Party says:

    Self-esteem has helped to destroy commitment? Should people have less self-esteem? As for “radical feminism”, should we go back to the days when women were treated as property and had little to no say in their marriages? Funny how some people like to make the argument that allowing gay people to marry will somehow “destroy” the institution, seeing as how heterosexuals are doing a fine job of that already…

  13. Brian Knapp says:

    Am I the only one more than slightly creeped out by that pic?

    Thank you! Definitely disturbing.