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The Network Effects of Divorce

This article looks at the impact of network effects on divorce. The researchers were able to determine that divorce can spread among friends. They found that clusters of divorces can extend to two degrees of separation in the network. Going off of this, they noticed that popular people are less likely to get divorced, divorcees have denser social networks, and they are more likely to remarry other divorcees.

The researchers looked into the impact of a friend’s divorce on your group, as well as your own risk for divorce. They were able to come up with some possible explanations for why divorced people tend to be in groups. One possible reason that they suggested was that people who get divorced promote divorce in others when they talk about the benefits. This can have the opposite impact if people who are divorced show their friends that it is more costly to get divorced than they originally thought. This would result in the remainder of their friends remaining married so that they do not have to deal with the negatives of getting divorced.

The researchers were able to narrow down the clustering of divorces within a social network to three processes. 1. “Influence or contagion, whereby one person’s divorce promotes or inhibits divorce in others” 2. “homophily, whereby people with the same divorce status choose one another as friends and become connected” 3. “Confounding, whereby connected individuals jointly experience contemporaneous exposures (such as economic downturn or co-residence in a wealthy neighborhood) that influence the likelihood of divorce”

Finally, there are two main ways why social networks might affect divorce risk. Structure is the first of these reasons. The less popular a couple is in their own social network, the higher their risk for divorce. Secondly, the presence of social contagion is important to the possibility of divorce. The attitudes of neighbors in the social network impact the effects. An example of this is when there is more people divorced in the group, it will be increasingly likely for you to divorce since it is seen as an acceptable solution within your circle of friends.


Previously, we have spoken about the impact of network effects on an industry. The manner in which competing companies act has an impact on how your own company will operate. There are many ways to react to a competitor’s action. For example, when trying to increase market share, a company might lower prices to be below those of the main competitor for the same product. This action can help to increase demand for your own product.

A group’s reaction to divorce is very similar. There are a few manners in which a group of friends can react to one friend getting divorced. Many of these reactions stem from how the divorcee acts after the change. Since you generally trust your friends, you will begin to think like them when it comes to their actions. If a friend gets divorced and is very happy afterwards, you might believe that divorce is a good solution to your own problems. This solution magnifies in attractiveness, as more and more members of the group get divorced. The opposite can also happen if the newly divorced friend reacts badly to the divorce. If you believe that there are more costs to getting divorced than there are benefits, you are less likely to get divorced yourself.

We can use this article to learn about how groups of friends react as a unit to all types of situations, based on the same practices that businesses use within their industries.


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