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Note: This article is from Conservation Magazine, the precursor to Anthropocene Magazine. The full 14-year Conservation Magazine archive is now available here.

Till Death Us Do Part

July 31, 2008

Divorce is on the rise around the world. Even in China, where divorce hasnít been common, the number of divorced couples surged from 1.6 million in 2004 to 1.9 million in 2006. In Ecuador, Greece, and the U.S., the number of extra households due to divorce increased dramatically from 1970 to 2001.


Divorced households use more space, energy, and water per person than married households. In the U.S., if resource use efficiency were the same in divorced households as in married households, then US$7 billion in electricity and almost US$4 billion in water could have been saved in 2005. In the following 12 countries, there was a total of 7.4 million extra households(1) as a result of divorce between 1999-2002.



1. Yu E. and J. Liu. 2007. Environmental impacts of divorce. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104(51):20629-20634.The number of extra households due to divorce was calculated by subtracting the number of divorced households that would exist if they had the average household size of married households from the actual number of divorced households.

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