Is Divorce Contagious?

If you get divorced, does that mean that someone else in your social network is likely to split from their spouse?  Not only did Al and Tipper Gore call it quits recently, but their eldest daughter, Karenna Gore Schiff, announced Wednesday that she is separating from her husband after 13 years of marriage and her younger sister Kristin Gore filed for divorce from Paul Cusack a year ago.  A recent study by James H. Fowler, a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, says that this might not be a mere coincidence.

In his study, Fowler found that there are several reasons why divorce may spread through social networks.  If you see friends, co-workers or even other family members going through divorce, you may gain some inside knowledge on the benefits and drawbacks of divorce – and concentrate on the benefits.

I have had a number of people come to me through the years and confided that their spouse separated from them because they found a new “support group” that empowered them, or that they themselves have confided in a friend that encouraged them to divorce.  It is a strange phenomena, but very real and very powerful.  The full text of the article can be found here.