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Divorce Not Earth-Friendly?

More Divorces Mean More Homes and More Energy Use, Experts Argue
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 3, 2007 -- High divorce rates may have an environmental impact, a new study suggests.

Divorce data came from 12 countries: the U.S., Belarus, Brazil, Cambodia, Cost Rica, Ecuador, Greece, Kenya, Mexico, Romania, South Africa, and Spain.

Living conditions vary widely among those countries. But overall, higher divorce rates meant greater household use of energy and water, the study shows.

Divorced households included fewer people. But those households spent more money, per person, on water and energy than people in married households.

So say Michigan State University's graduate student Eunice Yu and Jianguo Liu, PhD, the university's Rachel Carson Chair in Ecological Sustainability.

Yu and Liu don't get into the emotional and relationship reasons for divorce. After looking only at environmental impact, they conclude that "divorce escalates consumption of increasingly limited resources (water, land, and energy)."

The findings appear in this week's early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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