London, July 5: Believe it or not! Divorce too is contagious like some diseases and can infect friends, colleagues and families.
The impact of divorce, described as a domino effect, means that if an immediate friend or colleague splits up, your own chance of divorce increases by 75 percent, say American researchers.
Scientists say that even the break-up of a friend-of-a-friend’s marriage increases your chances of divorce by a third, media reported.
The phenomenon is highlighted by the Primrose Hill set of North London celebrities in the 1990s – which included pairs such as Sadie Frost and Jude Law, Patsy Kensit and Liam Gallagher, and Meg Mathews and Noel Gallagher. Today, none are together.
The American researchers describe the effect as “divorce clustering” and believe that divorces within friend circle force couples to start questioning their own relationships.
A friend’s divorce may also reduce the fear of social stigma of splitting up, even when children are involved.
The findings come from a study into the lives of more than 12,000 Americans living in the New England town of Framingham since 1948.
The researchers – led by Rose McDermott of Brown University, Rhode Island – found that every divorce sends ripples through friends, families and work colleagues.
“These results go beyond previous work intimating a person-to-person effect to suggest a person-to-person-to-person effect,” said McDermott.
“Individuals who get divorced may influence not only their friends, but their friends’ friends as the propensity to divorce spreads,” she said, adding, “A person’s tendency to divorce depends not just on his friend’s divorce status, but also extends to his friend’s friend.”
The observation shows that participants are 75 percent more likely to be divorced if a person – other than their spouse – to whom they are connected is divorced.
“The size of the effect for people at two degrees of separation, for example the friend of a friend, is 33 percent. At three degrees the effect disappears.”
The study showed that people who set up life elsewhere also had as much influence on a friend’s chances of divorce as someone living in the same street.
Divorce among family members and work mates also increased the chances of someone’s own marriage ending, the experts found.
The more divorced people that you know, the riskier your own marriage, they said, and the impact makes no difference for even those couples who have children.