2015/34: Divorce and the business cycle: a cross-country analysis
In this paper, we examine the role of the business cycle in divorce. To do so, we use a panel of 29 European countries covering the period from 1991 to 2012. We find the unemployment rate negatively affects the divorce rate, pointing to a pro-cyclical evolution of the divorce rate, even after controlling for socio-economic variables and unobservable characteristics that can vary by country, and/or over time. Results indicate that a one- percentage-point increase in the unemployment rate involves almost 0.025 fewer divorces per thousand inhabitants. The impact is small, representing around 1.2% of the average divorce rate in Europe during the period considered. Supplementary analysis, developed to explore a possible non-linear pattern, confirms a negative relationship between unemployment and divorce in European countries, with the inverse relationship being more pronounced in those countries with higher divorce rates.