No, the Lockdown Has Not Led to a Divorce Boom

According to some media reports, marriages are cracking under the strain of lockdown and divorce rates are soaring. In August, Mailonline reported a divorce boom in the United States.

In September BBC news reported a divorce boom in the UK. Read between the lines, though, and you should start to smell a rat. MailOnline’s U.S. claim was based on a survey completed by 700 members of a dating agency, hardly a representative sample of couples as a whole.

And the BBC’s UK claim was based entirely on a rise in the number of page views on the Citizens Advicewebsite for “getting a divorce” that only happened during August.

In contrast, good news stories are greeted with disbelief. A UK analysis of national survey data found a quarter of parents were getting on better with their children in May compared to just 4% who said they’d got on worse. 

The Observer dismissed the findings as “Weird but true.”

Our new Marriage Foundation analysis reveals what has been actually happening to marriages.

Reports of marital commitment and stability are actually up in the United States

According to a poll conducted in January of 2021 by Coach Lee’s, 17% of married couples reported that since the start of the pandemic their marriage had improved while only 11% reported that their marriage had become worse. 72% reported no change.

While some couples are struggling, the majority of husbands and wives report that their marital unions are stronger in 2020. According to the American Family Survey (AFS), a new survey of American families conducted by Deseret News/Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, 58% of married men and women 18-55 said that the pandemic has made them appreciate their spouse more, while 51% of husbands and wives said their commitment to marriage had deepened.

Furthermore, the AFS found that the share of married people reporting their marriage is in trouble fell from 40% in 2019 to 29% in 2020, as the figure shows below:

According to the Institute for Family Studies (IFS), Despite media reports suggesting otherwise, the initial state data [They] have indicates a decline in divorce filings for 2020, with year-to-date divorce filings down 19% in Florida, 9% in Missouri, 12% in Oregon, and 13% in Rhode Island.

As the figure below shows, there’s been a marked decline in divorce during the COVID months (these are the five states for which data is available).

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Marie Wellmond

Marie Wellmond is a staff writer for She provides practical and effective tips for strong marriage relationships.

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