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New study on military divorce undercuts previous findings

Some readers in Florida and elsewhere might recollect a study authored by the RAND Corporation (a global nonprofit that provides policy analysis on a number of subjects for the United States government) several years ago on the topic of military divorce.

That 2007 study concluded that military deployments improve rather than undermine the quality of marriage for marriages in which one or both partners are service members.

A follow-up RAND study now solidly debunks that earlier view, with a co-author flatly stating that deployments -- specifically to Afghanistan and Iraq -- are clearly detrimental to lasting marital unions rather than supportive of them.

“That result came out loud and clear,” notes economist Sebastian Negrusa.

The research conducted by Negrusa and others has been termed “the largest study done on broken marriages in the military.” The findings appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Population Economics. They are based on researchers’ scrutiny of the marriages of hundreds of thousands of military members over a 10-year period ending in 2008.

A fundamental conclusion: Every additional month that passes while one or both partners are deployed increases the potential for divorce.

That finding directly contradicts RAND’s earlier study, and it provides additional information that links the military divorce rate to the timing of a marriage. Researchers say that military deployments have been especially hard for couples who were married prior to the domestic terror attacks of September 11, 2001. One reason for that, say study authors, is that such couples entered marriage without being able to anticipate, obviously, the high number of deployments that would follow, along with their attendant stressors.

The study reveals a direct nexus between a deployment’s length and the potential for divorce. As a deployment stretches out, the risk of marital dissolution increases.

Source: USA TODAY, "Study: Long, frequent deployments hurt military marriages," Gregg Zoroya, Sept. 3, 2013

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