IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Is a Bad Economy Good for Marriage? The Relationship between Macroeconomic Conditions and Marital Stability from 1998-2009


  • Kristen Harknett

    (University of Pennsylvania)

  • Daniel Schneider

    (Princeton University)


In the United States, the Great Recession has been marked by severe shocks to labor and housing markets. In this study, we combine longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) with administrative data on local area unemployment rates and state-level mortgage delinquency rates to examine the relationship between labor and housing market distress and marital dissolution among couples with children. Although the recession increased economic hardship in our sample, we find no evidence that these economic stresses accelerated or increased rates of marital dissolution. On the contrary, our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the recession led some couples to delay or forego marital separation. This relationship was strongest in subgroups that were hardest hit by the recession: racial and ethnic minorities and those with low levels of educational attainment.

Suggested Citation

  • Kristen Harknett & Daniel Schneider, 2012. "Is a Bad Economy Good for Marriage? The Relationship between Macroeconomic Conditions and Marital Stability from 1998-2009," Working Papers 1375, Princeton University, School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:crcwel:wp12-04-ff.pdf

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    marriage; education; economic cycles; unemployment; marital separation; children;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D19 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Other
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pri:crcwel:wp12-04-ff.pdf. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Bobray Bordelon). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.