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Many factors affect divorce rates - even housing prices

In our last post, we examined how unemployment affects divorce rates for men. Another recent study takes a look at another factor that affects divorce rates, and it's a somewhat surprising one: Housing prices.

The study finds that when housing prices fall, a couple is less like to get a divorce. On the flip side of the coin, renters are more likely to divorce. So, what gives?

It makes a little more sense when you think about it for a minute. If renters are not bound by a mortgage, it would be easy to split up and get separate apartments. But if a couple gets stuck in a house with declining equity, the answer isn't quite so easy.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the study combines data taken from the Bureau of the Census' Current Population Survey from 1991 to 2010, plus housing prices in more than 150 cities from the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The study examined people ranging from age from 25 to 79. All examined in the study were married at one point. Since college graduates were much more likely to own a home than those who never graduated from high school, researchers used education status in place of renters and homeowners.

In terms of specifics, the study found that of college graduates who had ever been married, 11.6 percent of them had divorced. If housing prices dipped 10 percent, the percentage of divorced people would also decline to just over 8 percent.

Of high school dropouts, 14.6 had divorced. However, that number would rise to over 17.5 percent if housing prices dropped.

If more long-term studies are done, the drop of housing prices during the recession should prove pretty illuminating when it comes to couples' divorce rates.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "The link between house prices and divorce," Christopher Shea, 23 June 2011

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