University of Missouri study: poor couples more likely to divorce

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C posted in Divorce on Thursday, September 8, 2011

Over the years, study after study has shown that married couples earning low incomes are more likely to have marital problems and end in divorce.

A recent University of Missouri study echoes that finding but adds a twist. The new research shows that low-income couples receiving government financial assistance are even more likely to have marital problems than poor couples who get no financial aid.

“We found that there’s a unique relationship among income level, government assistance and marital satisfaction and commitment,” said one of the study’s authors.

In the university’s research, couples with annual incomes below $20,000 scored notably lower on five of six aspects of judging the quality of a marriage: overall satisfaction, being committed to the relationship, experiencing feelings of being trapped in marriage, negative exchanges with the spouse and the likelihood of getting a divorce.

Couples who earned similarly low incomes and received government financial aid had comparably low scores in most areas, except on two important matters where they scored significantly lower: commitment and overall satisfaction.

The researcher said economic hard times bring about stresses that then exert strains on other parts of a couple’s life together, leading to “negative interactions between spouses” and people feeling caught in a failed marriage. Plus, because they earn low incomes, they don’t feel confident about their ability to survive on their own.

The University of Missouri research doesn’t venture educated guesses as to why low-income couples receiving government assistance are more likely to be unhappy than low-income couples without aid.

Of course, whenever a new study comes out about why we’re happy or unhappy, successful or unsuccessful, it’s good to remember that this type of research deals in statistics, not individuals. Many low-income married couples are extremely happy together and many well-off couples are busy talking to their family law attorneys about impending divorces.

Studies are great conversation-starters, but no one should assume that because their income is now low, they’re doomed, or that because they make a good income, they’re certain to have a happy marriage.

Source: “Study: Couples who receive government assistance report less marital satisfaction” by Tina Korbe: Sept. 8, 2011

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