OSU Researchers Study Divorce Rates Among Coal-Families

Rural coal-mining families show resilience against divorce when faced with the economic downturns common in the industry, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that rural counties with higher levels of coal jobs had lower divorce rates compared with similar counties with fewer coal jobs during the 1990s, when the coal industry was losing jobs.

The results suggest that rural coal families may do better than others in dealing with the stress of an economic downturn in the coal industry.

Their results appear in the November 2017 issue of the Journal of Rural Studies.

The researchers compared data from 1990 to 2000, when the coal industry was losing jobs, to 2000 to 2010, when employment in the industry was growing. They used public data from the U.S. Census Bureau and proprietary data purchased from Economic Modeling Specialists International.

They examined how the proportion of a county’s jobs in the coal industry was related to marriage and divorce during the two decades studied. They also compared rural counties with those that were within a metropolitan area.

Results showed that there were significant differences in marriage and divorce in metro coal communities compared to those in rural areas.

The study found that while people in rural coal counties are more likely to marry in boom periods compared to bust periods, the rate of increase was not as large as it was in metro counties. The study also found that divorce rates in metro coal counties were higher than in the rural areas during the 1990s coal bust.