The Effects of Recession on American Families

Recession in the United States has had a big impact on many American families. The situation has significantly changed regarding the creation and breaking of families (read: birth rates and divorces). The rates of family violence have increased horribly, while unity, marriage and leading a normal family life have become a rare thing.

During recession, people go through very hard times and have to worry about survival every day. Economy becomes so bad for a regular family that many can barely afford to eat every day, let alone enjoy an occasional pleasure. But these hardships are rarely given much media attention, while the figures of unemployment rates, simply stating the numbers without connecting them with real people, take all the news time. Many people struck by recession struggle to make it until the economy changes for the better, but this often takes so long that people become depressed which greatly affects their personal lives.

Though many families try to continue living as if nothing was wrong, the fact is that recession affected their life and all their everyday activities. Here are some ways in which the recession impacted American families.


When recession strikes, many people lose their jobs, and that brings down their security and stability as well. This doesn’t affect only the individuals who lost their jobs, but their families who depend on them, too. By losing a job, a person doesn’t just lose the money and a place to spend most of their day – they also have to deal with a decreased sense of self-worth which can lead to mental and physical problems. Most of the people who get fired due to recession become depressed, take up bad habits such as binge drinking, smoking, etc.

But apart from the problems it causes to the non-physical, loss of a job leads to difficulties in paying the bills and bringing food to the table each month. This can be dealt with if the unemployment is temporary, but if a person cannot seem to be able to find any job for an extended period of time, the problems become worse and worse. And to make things even more worse, this is not something that affected a small number of people. On January 26th, 2009 (A.K.A. “Bloody Monday”), more than 71,400 jobs were lost. Not to mention many other times when the recession hit hard. Only in 2009, around 5 million jobs were lost.

However, as with everything, there are ways to change this horrible state of helplessness. People who lost their jobs should consider doing some job that might not be in their area of expertise, but they have the ability to do it. Even though the salary might not be what they are used to, any salary is better than no salary. Moreover, taking a course or going back to school to improve can significantly raise the chances of employment, too. The only wrong thing to do in this situation is to do nothing (credits to House M.D. from the same-named TV series).


A person who can’t seem to be able to find a job becomes very stressed and agitated. This can greatly damage personal relationships, and as family comes first, family is the first to get hurt. Sometimes, families have to sell their homes because they are no longer able to pay the bills and mortgage – which means moving and switching schools and various other complications.  The time of recession is the time when most family violence occurs, and the children are the ones who hurt the most. More and more parents hit their children. However, the rates in partner violence have also increased.

As for the rates of divorce, they drop significantly during reception, probably mostly because of the fees and costs of getting one. As people are financially challenged and are struggling to pay for food, let alone divorce, they postpone this till after the recession has passed.

Changes in lifestyle

As there are many unemployed people, and those who kept their jobs have seen their income reduce – going to restaurants, tropical vacations, enjoying organized group activities have become a luxury and something that needs to be cut back on. Since there aren’t enough funds to support the lavish way of living, people need to adjust their lifestyles to the new conditions brought upon them by recession.


During recession, many people can’t afford paying for their children’s college, but even those who do attend college get disappointed by the experience, because universities cut classes, fire teachers, thus decreasing the number of relevant subjects, and put too many students into classes predicted for small groups. While ruining the quality of education, the tuitions shamelessly go up. However, there are always ways to get financial aid to support education, or take a job while studying to pay off the tuition.

Economists claim that the recession has passed, but as we all know the effects are still here. These are only a few ways in which the recession has impacted American families. However, it has brought many hardships which lead to emotional breakdowns, family break-ups and violence. What recession can do to a society can take years to make right again, but even then the scars remain deeply embodied in the skin and hearts of those who had to go through all of what recession has brought upon them.