Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Marital separations an alternative to divorce for poor couples

Married couples who undergo long-term separations generally appear to be those who can't afford to divorce, a new nationwide study suggests.

Researchers found that about 80 percent of all respondents who went through a marital separation ultimately divorced, most within three years.

About five percent attempted to reconcile. But, 15 percent of separations didn't lead to divorce or reconciliation within 10 years. Couples in these long-term separations tended to be racial and ethnic minorities, have low family income and education, and have young children.

"Long-term separation seems to be the low-cost, do-it-yourself alternative to divorce for many disadvantaged couples," said Dmitry Tumin, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in sociology at Ohio State University. "Separation may not be their first choice, but they may feel it is their best choice."

Tumin conducted the study with Zhenchao Qian, a professor of sociology at Ohio State. They will present their results at the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

The study involved 7,272 people from across the country who participated in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79), and who were married at some point. The NLSY79 is a nationally representative sample of men and women aged 14 to 22 in 1979. The same people were surveyed every year up to 1994 and every other year since then. The Tumin/Qian study followed the respondents through 2008.

The NLSY79 is conducted by Ohio State's Center for Human Resource Research for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The results of this study showed that 49 percent of participants left their first marriage during the course of the NLSY79 interviews, with 60 percent of that group having gone through a marital separation. About 80 percent of these separations ended in divorce.

The average length of a first separation was three years for those who ended up divorcing, nine years for respondents who were still separated as of the most recent interview, and two years for those who reunited with their spouse.

Reconciliation after separation is often unsuccessful, the study found -- half of the respondents that reconciled were no longer married as of 2008.

People who divorced immediately were similar to people who separated first before divorcing, but people who separated and did not divorce had very different profiles, the researchers found.

Almost 75 percent of those who remained separated, or who separated and then reunited, were black or Hispanic. Those who remained separated were more likely than those who divorced to have a high school or lower education.

"In every measure we had, including family background, income and education, those who remain separated are more disadvantaged than those who end up divorcing," Qian said.

Compared to people who divorced, those who separated without divorcing also tended to have more children, the study found.

"Those with young children may find it difficult to support themselves and their children if they divorce. Divorce may not protect them because their spouse may be unwilling or unable to provide financial support," Qian said.

One surprising finding was that study participants' religious background was not associated with whether they chose separation or divorce, or whether they reunited after a separation.

"We thought that people with certain religious backgrounds that discourage divorce, like Catholicism, might be more likely to separate rather than divorce, but we did not find that after other factors are taken into account," Tumin said.

When the results of this study are compared to previous research, some trends emerge, Tumin said.

The number of people who choose separation seems to be declining, but the time spent in separation seems to be increasing.

Both of these trends may be explained by the increasing availability of "no-fault" divorces for the generation of young adults in this study.

No-fault divorces reduced or eliminated separation as a prerequisite for divorce. That means people who have long-term separations now may not have the financial or social resources to divorce, according to Qian.

"Tough economic times are likely to make these trends continue," Qian said.

"Long-term separation may continue to be the norm for the disadvantaged unless they can see a better alternative, both in terms of spousal availabilities and economic independence."

About the American Sociological Association

The American Sociological Association (, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.

The paper, "Incidence, Predictors, and Resolution of Marital Separations," will be presented on Monday, Aug. 20, at 10:30 a.m. MDT in Denver, Colorado, at the American Sociological Association's 107th Annual Meeting.

To obtain a copy of the paper; for more information on other ASA presentations; or for assistance reaching the study's author(s), members of the media can contact Daniel Fowler, ASA's Media Relations and Public Affairs Officer, at (202) 527-7885 or During the Annual Meeting (Aug. 17-20), ASA's Public Information Office staff can be reached in the press room, located in Mezzanine A of the Colorado Convention Center, at (303) 228-8350 or (914) 450-4557 (cell).

For more information about the study, members of the media can also contact Jeff Grabmeier, Ohio State University, at (614) 292-8457 or

Papers presented at the ASA Annual Meeting are typically working papers that have not yet been published in peer reviewed journals.


Contact: Daniel Fowler, (202) 527-7885, (914) 450-4557 (cell),

On-site Press Room (Aug. 17-20): Colorado Convention Center, Mezzanine A, (303) 228-8350

Daniel Fowler | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>