Couples hardest hit by recession are very likely to split

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A new study by Relate has looked into the negative impact of the recession on relationships, now being recognised as the ‘social recession’.

The report, Relationships, Recession and Recovery examines data from Understanding Society showing how 20,000 UK individuals were affected by the economic downturn from 2009 to 2012.

The study grouped people together according to their experiences of the recession and analysed how couple relationships fared in each group. Groups were identified by how they experienced job loss, being behind with bills, satisfaction with employment, working overtime, perception of current and future financial situation, and optimism for the future.

“External pressures such as money can cause serious issues for couples. Rarely has this been more apparent than during the recent recession when we saw the daily grind become too much to bear for some, as illustrated by our new report,” said Ruth Sutherland, Chief Executive of Relate.

The findings are stark: people who were disadvantaged economically during the recession were considerably more likely to have experienced deterioration in their relationship quality and stability.

The report refers to this negative impact of recession on relationships as the ‘social recession’. Furthermore, the evidence also suggests that, without action, the social recession may continue for some time after economic conditions have improved. Due to the costs of separation, reduced relationship quality may not manifest as relationship breakdown until financial conditions permit.

These findings have important implications for how we understand the impact of recession; how, accordingly, we think and talk about recovery; and how policy can respond to build a happier, healthy and more productive society. While economic pressures such as recession can intensify stress in relationships, it’s also good-quality relationships which can provide resilience and be a bulwark against adversity. Strengthening relationships is therefore important for building resilience against future recessions and other pressures, and relationships are central to building a ‘social recovery’ alongside and reinforcing economic recovery.

Read the full report: Relationships, Recession and Recovery by Dr Dylan Kneale, Dr David Marjoribanks and Chris Sherwood.

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this news has been re-posted from the Understanding Society website