Is Divorce Contagious?

Many studies have been conducted on divorce, including reviews of trends in the rates of divorce and research that looks at major causes of divorce. One such study that looked at potential factors leading to divorce analyzed the impact of a friend’s divorce on their other married friends.

According to a study by researchers at Brown University, the University of California San Diego, and Harvard University, people are 75% more likely to be divorced if one of their friends has divorced as well. The researchers even took it a step further and found that a husband or wife is 33% more likely to get a divorce if a friend of their friend divorced first.

Per a Chicago Tribune article on the 2013 study, several obvious reasons have been suggested as to why this pattern likely holds true. According to Helen Fisher, an author and research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, friends are alerted to the possibilities of divorce by their friends, and then believe they can do it too. As Ms. Fisher put it: “One person starts doing it, and others look at their own lives, and they assess their lives: If he can do it, I can do it.”

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