The Great Recession and Parents' Relationships

Christopher Wimer, Columbia Population Research Center
Publication Date:
Jan 2015
Project Programs:
The Social and Economic Effects of the Great Recession

Economic downturns are stressful experiences for those affected by them, as well as those connected to affected family members and loved ones. Even those not directly affected may feel the effects of a downturn as they worry about the changing economic climate and opportunity. It stands to reason, then, that recessions may not be great for couples’ marital or non-marital relationships with one another. Marriages and romantic relationships could become strained, leading to breakups of existing unions. Marriage may also seem more expensive, leading to delays in new marriages forming. On the flip side, couples may move in together to reduce costs or delay an impending breakup because of anticipated costs. Regardless of whether relationships dissolve, stay intact, or form, economic downturns can strain couples’ relationships, leading to more conflict and an erosion of supportiveness. Such processes are particularly worrisome when couples have young children in the home. This begs the question: Did the recent Great Recession lead to significant changes in the relationships between parents of young children?


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