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Researchers tackle the epidemiology of divorce

Although divorce is quite common, it also has an air of mystery associated with it. This might be why researchers have tried to delve into the topic for years to try to learn the what, where, when, how and why of the marital split. One research team really invested some time into their research – three decades to be exact – and made some interesting conclusions.

The data, which was collected from 1971 to 2001, revealed a fascinating facet of divorce: its contagiousness. Researchers looked at divorce in terms of an epidemic and found that those in the study were 75 percent more likely to divorce if a family member or close friend was divorced. To take the study even further, those that knew a friend of a friend that was divorced were 33 percent more likely to divorce. 

This trend can be referred to as “social contagion,” which can happen in many forms, from a ‘phantom disease’ spreading through a workplace to teen sexual behavior.

 Researchers say that this study does not represent the nation as a whole, since it concentrates on a specific group of people who were predominantly white and more likely to be in the middle class. Compared to the U.S. population, they were also less likely to be divorced.

Studies bring up interesting trends, but they by no means are indicators of how any individual marriage will turn out. In other words, there’s no reason to stop answering the phone calls of your divorced friends.

In our next blog post we will discuss a few other divorce trends noted in the study that Fort Lauderdale readers may find interesting.

Source: Pew Research Center, “Is divorce contagious?” Rich Morin, Oct. 21, 2013   

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