Divorce by job description or love actually?

8 October 2018

Recent Swedish research (published by The Royal Society) from across The Bridge has come up with some ideas about why their neighbours in Denmark divorce by connecting what the Danes do for a living with the chances of divorce. Why exactly they wanted to look at this relatively small sample is unclear, particularly when there was more interesting research closer to home.

According to previous Swedish national adoption research published in Psychological Science earlier this year, nature is more important than nurture when it comes to the possibility of divorce. By looking at the divorce rate of 20,000 adopted Swedish children it  found that if their natural parents divorced, they were 20% more likely to divorce themselves....presumably also regardless of occupation.

The Swedish “divorce by job type” research tells us that it is actually what you do for a living that counts when it comes to divorce, but they clearly didn’t read the US research findings of Nathan Yau 2017 (or perhaps those jobs don’t exist in Denmark) who put telesales, machine setters, massage therapists (how could you miss them) and flight attendants right up there in the “likely to divorce” stakes.

And what about those without work or who are working in the “zero hours” economy where irregular work hours apparently lead to the “opportunity and inclination” of infidelity?

Regardless of the stats - people don’t divorce by job description. 

Each experience of marital breakdown is unique as is each reason why people fall in love - and the process of divorce is as excruciating for anyone involved, whether they are politicians or pot cleaners.

Taken at face value, what should people do with the Swedish research? Refuse to fall in love with the girl or guy behind the bar? Should Americans run out to find an actuary (because research says that they are the least likely to likely to divorce)..... no way (sorry actuaries but).

What would the statisticians have concluded of the possibility of a union between the Capulet and Montague families? Disaster of course, but also the loss of one of the greatest love stories ever told.

Perhaps it might be better to forget the statisticians and listen to Rumi instead and “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do”.

First published in Divorce Magazine, October 2018.

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