Life course transitions and natural disaster: marriage, birth, and divorce following Hurricane Hugo

J Fam Psychol. 2002 Mar;16(1):14-25. doi: 10.1037//0893-3200.16.1.14.


Change in marriage, birth, and divorce rates following Hurricane Hugo in 1989 were examined prospectively from 1975 to 1997 for all counties in South Carolina. Stress research and research on economic circumstances suggested that marriages and births would decline and divorces would increase in affected counties after the hurricane. Attachment theory suggested that marriages and births would increase and divorces would decline after the hurricane. Time-series analysis indicated that the year following the hurricane, marriage, birth, and divorce rates increased in the 24 counties declared disaster areas compared with the 22 other counties in the state. Taken together, the results suggested that a life-threatening event motivated people to take significant action in their close relationships that altered their life course.

MeSH terms

  • Birth Rate*
  • Disasters*
  • Divorce / psychology*
  • Divorce / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Marriage / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • South Carolina
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*