Over the last 4 years or so, a backlog of angry, resentful couples too poor to divorce has been building. Meanwhile, scores of fertile but financially hesitant women have been revving their ovaries, waiting until the economic picture rights itself before introducing an expensive baby into the family. As soon as this global meltdown shit is over, it's going to be a no-holds-barred divorce/baby having frenzy. Will any of us survive?
In a fascinating analysis of patterns of household formation— an economic term for anything that leads to a need for another unit of housing— Rortybomb's Mike Konczal examines the link between
the macro economy and individual life decisions. He notes that people tend to wait to make the decisions that lead to household formation— like having a kid, or breaking up— until the financial picture stabilizes. And as it does, he predicts that people will make up for lost time, thus giving the economy a shot in the arm as household formation increases.
That's right: divorce could help save the economy. Praise Kim Kardashian!
Konczal found that in states where unemployment skyrocketed in 2008, the divorce rate plummeted. But there's an even stronger inverse relationship between the unemployment rate and the birth rate. Turns out, the unemployed are fully aware that having a baby is a pricey enterprise, and they've been putting it off for years. Last year, for example, the fertility rate dropped to its lowest level since the government's been keeping track. This can't all be due to Teen Mom.
There wasn't a correlation between the marriage rate and unemployment, even though getting married is holy fucking $300 centerpiece Batman expensive. Konczal believes that this is because marriage is a "risk reducing" act that allows people to pool their resources. Plus, no one is forcing anyone to have an expensive wedding; people these days are just so swept away by love and magic that they're just getting married, anyway, in $5 Salvation Army dresses and combat boots and having their friend take their wedding shots with an old Polaroid and serving lentils at the reception.
These stats have Konczal feeling optimistic that once the dam breaks on all these delayed pregnancies and divorces, the need for housing may increase, and money will again begin flowing into the US economy, boosting hiring and allowing people to move out of their parents' house or into their own one bedroom apartments, thus creating more housing.
Thanks, bickering and babies!
Image via Mincemeat/Shutterstock