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May 02, 2021

Unrelated? Divorces down, Shaken Baby Syndrome cases up, during recession

As we head to the polls to consider a myriad of election platforms today, Canadians may be best to deliberate which candidate is best for our nation’s economy.

795735_i_love_you Because, no matter how much we hear about how strong Canada’s recovery has been on the world’s scale, we simply cannot escape news of how money affects us.

To wit: two new studies offer a cringe-worthy look into the relationship between cash and our day-to-day lives. During the crippling downturn, according to two separate sources, divorce filings sank while cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome more than doubled.

Yes, such reports may be unrelated, but what else can we say when news is this sobering, especially at a time when people, resentful at the downturn, adopt a popular “I won’t let money bring me down anymore” viewpoint?

According to U.S. stats, the percentage of divorced Americans in 2009 (9.7 per cent) only dropped 0.2 per cent from three years earlier, though perhaps such figures – the latest available – don’t accurately gauge the current temperature. One Las Vegas lawyer says there is “huge pent-up demand” for divorces now, according to the Financial Times, while another South Dakota firm reports its business is already 25 per cent busier this year than 2009.

A story from that South Dakota outlet, by the Financial Times: “One client first approached (the firm’s president, Linda Lea Viken) about leaving his wife in 2008, but put the divorce on hold when the local bank would not lend him money to buy her out of their ranch. As property values in the area rebounded following a steep rise in the price of corn and wheat, the once stalled divorce is ‘moving full steam ahead,’ Ms. Viken said.”

If you think that’s sad, try this.

Conversely, while divorce rates fell during the downturn – and have subsequently rebounded as cash begins to flow more freely – instances of non-accidental head trauma (NAHT) in infants spiked in that same period.

According to a Cleveland children’s hospital, which conducted the morbid study, a total of 43 cases of NAHT – often called Shaken Baby Syndrome – concerning children up to two-years-old came through the institution’s doors during the 31 months of the recession ending in June, 2010. That’s a lower number than the 50 cases the hospital saw from December, 2001, through November, 2007, though accounting for the shorter timeline, it marks a 101 per cent increase during the downturn.

“We know that times of increased stress may be more dangerous for babies,” Dr. Robert Block, professor and chair of paediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, said, “and so it makes sense that in a recession, where there are all kinds of very stressful situations, we would see an uptick in these kinds of injuries.”

So, can money buy you happiness? Probably not. But can lack of money buy you misery? Well …

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money

*Follow Jason on Twitter here



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...