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Economic Conditions and the Divorce Rate: A Time-Series Analysis of the Postwar United States

Scott J. South
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 47, No. 1 (Feb., 1985), pp. 31-41
DOI: 10.2307/352066
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352066
Page Count: 11
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Economic Conditions and the Divorce Rate: A Time-Series Analysis of the Postwar United States
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Abstract

This paper challenges the longstanding belief that the divorce rate rises in periods of prosperity and falls during economic recessions. Time-series regression analysis of the postwar United States reveals small, but positive, effects of unemployment on the divorce rate. Substantially stronger influences on the divorce rate are changes in age structure and the labor-force participation rate of women. In addition, when other factors are held constant, the divorce rate shows a rise during the Vietnam War but not during the Korean War. The implications of these and alternative explanations for the postwar trend in divorce are discussed.

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