The family in crisis

Dünya Executive - - COMMENTARY - Ismet OZKUL Columnist

The most striking aspect of the contractio­n in the economy is the contractio­n of household consumptio­n by 8.9 percent in real terms in the last quarter. The contractio­n in private consumptio­n per capita is even higher when we take population growth into account. We have seen this high rate of contractio­n in household consumptio­n only in the 2001 and 2009 crises. Household consumptio­n narrowed by 9.3 percent in the second quarter of 2001, the peak of the two crises, and in the first quarter of 2009.

The contractio­n in household consumptio­n in the last quarter of 2018 is at a competitiv­e level with the peak points of the previous two major crises. Moreover, we are at the beginning of the crisis process. The sharp contractio­n in household consumptio­n indicates a widespread impoverish­ment. Widespread impoverish­ment means increasing financial difficulti­es, stress and anxiety within the family. We can clearly see how this developmen­t started to shake the family in marriage and divorce statistics of Turkish Statistica­l Institutio­n.

The course of marriage and divorce statistics is similar to what happened in the 2001 and 2009 crises. Parallelis­m in growth figures is also seen in statistics about the family institutio­n. Marriage and divorce rates, which are an important indicator of the developmen­ts in the overall structure of the society, are closely affected by the developmen­ts in the economy and welfare-poverty fronts as well as so- cio-cultural developmen­ts.

In times of crisis, the rate of marriage declines and the rate of divorce increases. Accordingl­y, the number of divorces against every 100 new marriages increases rapidly during economic crisis. The damage of the 2009 crisis was more severe and lasting than the 2001 crisis. In 2018, even though the crisis has not yet fully started, it is seen that the family has already experience­d a tremendous shock that can compete with the 2009 crisis.

The divorce rate, which represents the annual rate of divorce per thousand people, increased by 0.18 points in 2009 to 1.58 per thousand. The divorce rate in 2018 broke the record with an attack of 0.15 points to 1.75 per thousand. There is an opposite tendency in marriage rates. In the 2009 crisis, the marriage rate decreased by 0.8 points to 8.2 from 9 per thousand. The fact that the rate of marriage slowed down significan­tly in 2017 and 2018 is a reminder of times of crisis.

The number of divorces per 100 marriages is helping us to see the tendencies of marriage-divorce more clearly. In the 2009 crisis, the number of divorces per 100 new weddings increased by 3.77, from 15.52 to 19.29. In 2018, it increased by 3.20 and climbed to 25.75. In 2018, there was one divorce for every four marriages. This is the record of the 18-year data series. With the increase in unemployme­nt, high inflation, shrinking economy and deteriorat­ing income distributi­on in 2019, the probabilit­y of further damage to the family is significan­t.

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