"According to new research published Thursday in the American Sociological Review. children whose parents divorce perform worse in math and have poorer social skills, and they struggle more with anxiety, loneliness, sadness, and poor self-esteem than their peers whose parents are not divorced. They are also more likely to have trouble making friends and maintaining those friendships, expressing emotions positively, and getting along with other kids who are different from them."
The study, also reported in USA Today, tracked children from kindergarten through 5th grade and focused on those whose parents divorced between 1st and 3rd grade. The USA Today story points out that problems did not show up in school before the divorce process began -- it was not the bad marriage, but the divorce itself and perhaps post-divorce developments, that correlated with the problems.
Utah taxpayers spend about $276 million on the effects of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbirth. But while there are effective tools to strengthen marriage and families, those who statistically need help most are the least likely to seek it out, experts say. "Those who are younger, less educated and less religious feel that such education is not important. But they are more apt to divorce, as well," said Melanie Reese, coordinator for the Utah Healthy Marriage Initiative.
The top five reasons people divorce are not a mystery, said Reese: lack of commitment, conflict/arguments, infidelity, marrying too young and finances. Often, these factors intertwine ...
By Kimberly Hefling, Associated Press – March 8, 2011
" Their marriages are more than twice as likely to end in divorce as those of their male comrades - and up to three times as likely for enlisted women. And military women get divorced at higher rates than their peers outside the military, while military men divorce at lower rates than their civilian peers. ... Last year, 7.8 percent of women in the military got a divorce, compared with 3 percent of military men, according to Pentagon statistics. Among the military's enlisted corps, nearly 9 percent of women saw their marriages end, compared with a little more than 3 percent of the men."
This excellent article goes on to discuss many effects and possible causes of this problem, several individual cases, and some efforts to help support veterans in their personal lives.
Excerpts: " births outside marriage are at their highest level in two centuries ... 46 per cent of children are born to unmarried mothers, according to research by the Centre for Social Justice. ... a child growing up in a one-parent family is 75 per cent more likely to fail at school, 70 per cent more likely to become a drug addict, 50 per cent more likely to have an alcohol problem and 35 per cent more likely to be unemployed as an adult.
Some 48 per cent of children are likely to see their family break up before they are 16. Ten years ago, it was 40 per cent."
"Gavin Poole, executive director of the [Centre for Social Justice], which was set up by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, said: ‘Current high levels of cohabitation are a key factor in the rise in family breakdown in our country and this paper shows that we have not been here before. ‘Marriage and commitment tend to stabilise and strengthen families and cannot be ignored. The peculiarly high levels of family breakdown found in Britain are at the heart of the social breakdown which is devastating our most deprived communities.
‘Strengthening families is vital, both to the health of Britain and in ensuring a more socially just society.'"
Professor Probert and Dr Callan say in their report: ‘It is not our intention to suggest that all marriages in the past were happy and long-lasting, nor that there were no examples of successful and stable cohabiting relationships.
‘But the quality of family life should be distinguished from its form. The fact that a number of marriages were brutal and fleeting should not obscure the centrality of marriage to family life in previous decades. The UK’s retreat from marriage has had negative effects for children, families and society, given that 80 per cent of relationship breakdown in young families takes place in unmarried families.
"The UK stands almost alone among European countries in failing to recognise traditional family structures in the tax system.
"France, Germany, Denmark and Norway all recognise the role of stay-at-home spouses.
"In 2003, the term ‘marital status’ was deleted from official forms. Most Government-sponsored research, meanwhile, refers only to ‘couple parent families’.
Kelly M. Roberts writes: The Healthy Marriage research collection: Trends, Attitudes and Social Implications is now up. Dan Hubler and I put a great deal of time into that project; much thanks go to coordinator Courtney Harrison, and reviewers Bill Coffin and Theo Ooms. Great reasource - quick access to many of the seminal articles building the foundation for healthy marriage.
Divorce is becoming an environmental issue. The more families split up, the more households there are. Extra households mean a higher environmental impact. "A married household actually uses resources more efficiently than a divorced household," says Jianguo Liu, an ecologist at Michigan State University. In short, a household uses a certain amount of heat or air conditioning for a full family, but once the family is split, they are using twice as much heat and air because there are two households. The same concept can be used for other appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers. And, although this may not seem like a big deal family-to-family, it certainly adds up. In the end, it means $6.9 billion in extra utility costs per year. His research included studying the "ecology of areas with declining populations," and he noticed that even though the population was declining in some areas, the number of households was increasing. Of course, there are several reasons for this, including individuals staying single longer. But, the proportion of divorced households has "increased rapidly."
[By the same token, it's a suburban-sprawl issue. Wish this article had some actual citations to something published, but we hope to hear more from Professor Liu.]
POSTSCRIPT-- there's more in a USA Today article, saying the study was published December 18, 2007 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the data it's based on "include international census data from the 2000 Integrated Public Use Microdata in 12 countries; data from 1970-2001 from the USA, Greece and Ecuador; and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a sample of 3,283 U.S. households from 2001 to 2005."
New Survey! Recession Brings Greater Commitment to Stay Married. This is from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, a pretty legit outfit, I believe the same one that conducted the long-running study of the effects of covenant marriage in Louisiana. It says 38 percent of couples considering divorce or separation have now put off those plans due to the recession, and 29 percent of all couples studied say that the Recession has deepened their commitment to their marriage; 58 percent say it had no effect.