More Swedes filed for divorce this summer than in same time period last year, as predicted by many psychologists at the onset of the pandemic.
According to statistics from the Swedish National Courts Administration, about 21,500 divorce applications were submitted between January and August, an increase of 7 percent compared with the last year. The increase peaked in June and July, with divorces reaching their zenith since 2013, the top year on record in the new millenium.
While Sweden chose not to lock down and generally pursued a much looser approach to the epidemic than its Scandinavian peers, which all implemented harsh measures in order to keep the spread at bay, psychologists still attribute the spike to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Divorces have tended to increase during all economic crises since the Second World War,” Glenn Sandström, who researches demographic history at Umeå University, said, as quoted by national broadcaster SVT, stressing that the corona-induced economic crisis was expected to take its toll on relationships.
This analysis was shared by psychologists.
“In families where you work from home, you get to spend a lot more time together. If you have something that doesn't click, you'll get more of it. You may not have got the free time you are used to,” psychologist Björn Hedensjö of the Karolinska Institute told SVT.
“Another explanation may be if, for instance, you feel uncertain at work and feel anxious about the future and about your finances. It can easily spill over into the relationship and cause quarrels, bickering and conflicts,” he added.
Depending on how the COVID-19 situation develops, the increase in divorce applications may continue, Björn Hedensjö mused.
“It could do that if we approach an autumn that is reminiscent of spring, in terms of uncertainty, remote work and anxiety. But it probably depends a lot on how the infection situation develops, whether a possible vaccine appears or if you start to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Otherwise, one can imagine that this negative trend will continue,” Hedensjö said.
Divorce filings amid the COVID-19 pandemic have exploded in countries throughout the world, ranging from the US to Finland.
Sweden's controversial no-lockdown strategy continues to polarise the global public, with some berating it for “unnecessary” deaths and others crediting it with keeping the economy afloat and avoiding market crashes.