Amidst the daily plethora of bad economic news — of double-digit unemployment and massive losses in housing equity — some good things are overlooked. Yes, Virginia, there is a silver lining to the recession!
- Americans are divorcing less, which means more stable homes for our children. The U.S. divorce rate fell 4% in 2008 to 16.9 divorces per 1,000 married women, after rising from 16.4 in 2005 to 17.5 in 2007 (a 7% increase).
- Married couples are staying together not just because they can’t afford to divorce but also because their marriages have become stronger as husbands and wives become more apprciative of each other as they rely on each other to weather the economic storm.
- Marriages are also stronger because Americans have reduced their collective revolving debt by $90 billion over the past year, down from the staggering $988 billion (nearly $1 trillion!) of December 2008. The recession has revived the “home economy” as more and more Americans are growing their own food, making and mending their own clothes, and dining out less often. In fact, research indicates that thrift is good for marriages. Consumer debt (e.g., credit card debt) plays a powerful role in eroding the quality of married life by fueling a sense of financial unease among couples, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will fight over money matters. In fact, newlywed couples who take on substantial consumer debt become less happy in their marriages over time. By contrast, newlywed couples who paid off any consumer debt they brought into their marriage or acquired early in their marriage had lower declines in their marital quality over time. Couples who have accumulated assets are also less likely to divorce.
- Finally, our national crime rate is down. Despite the loss of over 7 million jobs, crime has plummeted to its lowest level since the early 1960s, thereby disproving the theory that crime is caused by poverty. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, homicide dropped 10% nationwide in the first six months of 2009; violent crime dropped 4.4% and property crime dropped 6.1%. Car thefts are down nearly 19%. The crime plunge is sharpest in many areas that have been hit the hardest by the housing collapse. Unemployment in California is 12.3%, but homicides in Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Times reported recently, dropped 25% over the course of 2009. Car thefts there are down nearly 20%.
Hmmm…. You think fewer divorces, stronger marriages and therefore families, as well as better law enforcement (h/t FellowshipOfMinds’ non-conservative member Montelimar!) might have something to do with the lower crime rates? LOL
- “Marriage in America: The State of Our Unions 2009,” a report by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and the Institute for American Values.
Jeffrey Dew, “Bank On It: Thrifty Couples Are the Happiest,” a report by the National Marriage Project, University of Virginia.
- Heather Mac Donald, “A Crime Theory Demolished,” Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2010.