Divorce Is 'Contagious'

Best friend's break-up boosts your odds 75%

By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 6, 2010 7:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – Friends of Al and Tipper, watch out. Divorce spreads like a disease, researchers say, among friends, families, and co-workers. If your best friend's marriage goes belly up, the chances of yours ending goes up 75%, scientists at Brown University say after analyzing data from a study of 12,000 Americans living in Framingham, Mass., since 1948. And what they call "divorce clustering" even extends to friends of friends; if they split up, your chances go up by a third.

"These results go beyond previous work intimating a person-to-person effect to suggest a person-to-person-to-person effect," one of the researchers tells the Daily Mail. Why the contagion? They hypothesize that a friend's break-up causes a couple to start questioning their own relationship, and that it reduces the social stigma of splitting up. The researchers also noted that contrary to conventional wisdom, having children does not reduce the risk of divorce.

In this June 11, 2009, file photo, Elin Nordegren talks to her husband, Tiger Woods during the first quarter of Game 4 of the NBA basketball finals in Orlando, Fla.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
FILE - In this June 11, 2009 file photo, Elin Nordegren talks to her husband, golfer Tiger Woods during the first quarter of Game 4 of the NBA basketball finals in Orlando, Fla. Tiger Woods was injured...   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
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