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Marriage and divorce are way down, study suggests

Samantha Fields Jan 6, 2021
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Divorce is expensive, and right now, a lot of people don't have that money to spend. Morakot Kawinchan via Getty Images
COVID-19

Marriage and divorce are way down, study suggests

Samantha Fields Jan 6, 2021
Divorce is expensive, and right now, a lot of people don't have that money to spend. Morakot Kawinchan via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

A lot of folks canceled big weddings during the pandemic, so perhaps it’s no surprise that a new study finds fewer people got married last year. The Bowling Green State University demographic study that looks at five states also suggests a big drop in divorces by as much as 36% in New Hampshire, for example.

The thing about divorce is it’s expensive. 

“If you have complex issues or custody stuff, you probably need an attorney,” said Michelle O’Neil, a divorce lawyer in Dallas.

“There ends up being a duplication of housing, so you have to create the duplicate furniture, and then you have the electrical, all the costs of a normal house,” she said.

And, right now, a lot of people don’t have that money to spend. 

That is likely a big reason the divorce rate has dropped by more than 20% during the pandemic in four of the five states the study looked at.

Krista Payne is one of the study’s researchers, and she said the same thing happened during the Great Recession. 

“And much of that was found to be caused by economic resources, and just loss of jobs and less resources to get divorced,” Payne said.

The uncertainty of the last year and the temporary closures of offices and courts likely also played a role. 

“The other thing about divorce is divorce takes time,” Payne said.

Couples who might not be getting along now because of the pandemic, Payne said, may not officially get divorced for a while. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What are the details of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan?

The $1.9 trillion plan would aim to speed up the vaccine rollout and provide financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. It would also include $1,400 checks for most Americans. Get the rest of the specifics here.

What kind of help can small businesses get right now?

A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?

New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

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