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Studies: Lower divorce rate equals U.S. economic growth?

Texas spouses who have separated and divorced understand how a division of households impacts personal finances. Two homes, separate vehicles and individual insurances are added expenses paid by a single income. Now, research suggests that divorce has a negative economic influence on the entire nation.

According to a Marriage and Religion Research Institute study, stable marriages are a bonus for the U.S. economy. Researchers discovered that divorces had the opposite effect on the economy by increasing the need for energy, housing and other resources.

Divorcerate.org claims the average U.S. divorce rate has fallen steadily and is now well below the 50 percent mark. Apparently the overall divorce rate among American couples married for the first time is now 41 percent.

Marital success now has the edge over divorce, if the new statistics are accurate. Analysts say the rise of women in the workplace and two-income households reconfigured the "family dynamic." The divorce rate is dipping as women command a larger share of the workforce and family earnings.

Couples are also postponing marriage. The average woman marries for the first time at age 26. The average man waits two years longer before making the long-term commitment.

The age delay in marriages -- so different from marriages of previous generations - has encouraged men and women to pursue higher education and establish careers. The completion of these goals benefits the finances of a marriage. Young and struggling couples are being replaced by educated and employed spouses with spendable incomes.

The reduction in the divorce rate is a positive sign that many couples are satisfied in the relationships they have. But despite the shift in national statistics, sometimes marriages just don't work out. Couples who consider divorce are probably not basing the decision on whether their marriage is good for the economy. Spouses often don't enter divorce with the idea that it will produce a negative result. Many are hopeful and embrace change.

Source: sfgate.com, "How Divorce Can Adversely Affect The Economy," Amanda C. Haury, Nov. 7, 2012

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