Is the recession to thank for lowered divorce rates?

If it is, Ross Douthat speculates it might not be a good thing:

Yes, divorce rates are dropping, but marriage rates are down as well. People aren’t getting divorced because they can’t afford it, not because they’re suddenly happier with their spouses. Meanwhile, the recession’s job losses have been heavily concentrated among working class men, who aren’t necessarily equipped to make a smooth adjustment to playing stay-at-home dads while their wives support the family. (Whelan’s essay acknowledges that “flexible or egalitarian gender roles may be more attractive to well-educated, affluent Americans than less-educated, working-class couples,” and Wilcox notes that his own research suggests that “husbands are significantly less happy in their marriages, and more likely to contemplate divorce, when their wives take the lead in breadwinning.”) So while some upper-middle class marriages may be strengthened, on the margins, by the recession, working class marriages are more likely to be weakened, even as the continued decline of the manufacturing sector makes men without college degrees less marriageable to begin with. We already have a large “marriage gap” between well-educated and less-educated Americans; the recession is likely to widen it. And once it’s over, as Hanna Rosin suggests, the working class may look that much more “like the inner city—a matriarchy with struggling mothers and drifting men and unmoored children.”

Man. Is there anything this recession is good for?


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