I recently came across a study about the impact of the recession on family life, The State of our Unions, Marriage in America 2009: Money and Marriage. The study was released by the University of Virginia (click here for a PDF file).
The author of the stufy suggests that economic stress has made American marriages slightly more stable overall, as couples develop a “new appreciation for the economic and social support that marriage can provide in tough times". Is this a nice way of saying that people are staying together for their creditors? How much fun can that be?
Having suggested that the recession might not be so devastating to American families, the study nonetheless expresses concern that the recession’s job losses have been heavily concentrated among working class men, who may not be equipped to make a smooth adjustment to playing stay-at-home dads while their wives support the family. So perhaps things aren't so rosy for American families, after all.
Furthermore, although divorce rates in the U.S. are down slightly, the decrease can be explained by falling marriage rates. This is consistent with a trend we have seen in Canada over the past couple of decades away from marriage to cohabitation. Unfortunately, Canadian social studies suggest that families without the benefit of marriage and its commitment are at higher risk for separation.
The reality is that a financial stress like a recession places all families at risk.