The Costly Consequences of Divorce

Assessing the Clinical, Economic, and Public Health Impact of Marital Disruption in the United States.

A Research-Based Seminar

David B. Larson, M.D., M.S.P.H.
James P. Swyers, M.A.
Susan S. Larson, M.A.T.
National Institute for Healthcare Research
Rockville, Maryland

Table of Contents



Purpose and Intended Audience for This Seminar

Structure of the Seminar

Module 1: Is Marriage An Endangered Institution?
You will become familiar with recent trends in marriage, divorce, and remarriage statistics and the accompanying changes in Americans' attitudes about marriage and family life that have helped to shape these trends. You will also become familiar with how these trends have substantially altered family life in this country. You will then be able to begin to examine how this knowledge may be relevant to family and marital problems and begin to formulate potential approaches for dealing with these difficulties.

Module 2: What Are The Clinical And Economic Consequences Of Marital Disruption For Spouses?
You will become familiar with the economic and clinical consequences of divorce for adults and also be able to discuss the issues such consequences raise for potential marital and family counseling, treatment, and intervention.

Module 3: What Are The Clinical And Economic Consequences Of Marital Disruption For Children, Adolescents, And Young Adults?
You will become familiar with the major potential consequences of divorce and separation for children, adolescents, and young adults. This includes a variety of effects that either independently or in combination with other predictive factors can significantly affect the ability of many individuals who have experienced divorce as a child to adjust to everyday life strains and adversity. You will then be able to use this information to form an overall picture of post-divorce family dynamics, both short-term and long-term.

Module 4: Does Remarriage Lessen Negative Consequences Of Marital Disruption?
This module will review many of the challenges and stressors faced by stepfamilies when compared to nuclear families and how these additional stresses can affect both the adults and children involved. You will also become familiar with some explanatory models that have been developed to help explain why stepfamilies face additional complicating stressful factors as well as research providing support for these models. In essence, this module attempts to provide a more complete picture of the different types and sequences of events that are likely to occur as the result of the breakup of a first marriage when it is followed by a remarriage.

Module 5: What Are Public Health And Public Policy Issues Associated With Marital Disruption?
This Module reviews the research concerning several major potential public health and public policy issues associated with marital disruption. One issue concerns the increased utilization of health care services and social welfare programs by those who have experienced a marital disruption. In addition, public health consequences such as increased costs to society of undereducation of individuals who have experienced a marital disruption as a child as well as their increased potential for becoming involved in juvenile delinquency and adult crime are discussed. Finally, possible public health and policy responses to these continuing problems are reviewed.

Module 6: What Are The Determinants Of Marital Instability And Marital Satisfaction?
This module reviews several important factors that research shows can contribute to marital instability and divorce. The module also reviews factors that the research shows can contribute to higher levels of marital satisfaction, in turn increasing marital stability. This information may be useful in saving and improving troubled marriages.


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