Amanda Miller, associate professor and department chair of sociology, was recently interviewed for a story in Forbes magazine, “Why Marriage and Divorce Rates are Dropping During the Pandemic.”
Current trends show young people putting off big decisions like marriage, divorce or parenthood during the pandemic. Miller, and several others, were interviewed to discuss the possible factors at play and what we might expect as the pandemic ends.
Plus, divorce can be expensive. It’s not just a question of paying the lawyers, but two households cost more than one. While divorce rates have been consistently low for college- educated couples, for those most likely to have lost their jobs during the current pandemic, current divorce rates may be artificially low, according to Professor Miller. Couples may wish to split up, but not be able to afford to do so right now.
And there is another hopeful sign: the number of engagements is increasing, with jewelry ring sales rising. But that is not a surprise to Professor Miller, because “getting engaged can be low cost- certainly much cheaper than having a baby or getting divorced.” As she notes, a ring is a one-time cost, so a stimulus check or bonus for front-line workers might help pay for that.
And, she adds, it’s unclear whether this will result in a flood of weddings (and divorces and babies) post-pandemic. While individuals may be excited to move forward with life events post-COVID-19, having postponed these events for so long may change how people feel about them. Ultimately, she predicts, given the economic downturn that women, in particular, have experienced recently, we might expect the current trends (increased engagements but decreased/delayed childbearing, marriage, and divorce) to continue.