“Is Divorce Contagious” by Rich Morin highlights the triadic closure property, contagion within a network, selection, and socialization in divorce. The article cites a study which focuses on data gathered over 30 years from couples who married, divorced, and then remarried in Framingham, Massachusetts. The study concluded that when one couple gets divorced, there is a 75 percent chance that one of their close married friends will divorce. The study also found that friends of friends of the divorced couple had a 33 percent more chance of divorcing. This statistic can be expressed using the triadic closure property in a network. The couples with strong ties to the divorced couple had a 75 percent chance of divorcing while those with weak connections to the divorced couple had a 33 percent chance of divorcing.
The study is also applicable to the economics term, contagion within a network. Divorce, a contagion within the network, was evident when 75 percent of couples with strong ties to the original couple divorced. Divorce is a contagion because when one couple divorced, their close friend had a higher chance of divorce. If that close friend got a divorce, then that couple’s friends had a 75 percent chance of divorcing and the trend continues.
I believe the chance of divorce increased as a couple’s friends got divorced because of selection. After the study’s participants saw their friends divorce, they more clearly realized their own marital problems. This realization could have possibly led to their divorce.
Socialization could have also been the cause of the friend’s divorce because people try to become more like their friends. If a friend divorces, it may lead all the other friends to divorce because they want to be like their divorced friend. Overall, this is a compelling article about how networks operate all around us without us even noticing.