Analysts at Ashley Madison, a dating website for those seeking extramarital affairs, found evidence of a connection between the downturn in the economy and infidelity, The Washington Post reports.
The site reported rapid expansion of its user base in 2008; membership swelled 166% worldwide and 192% in the United States. Analysts with the site compared the change in the number of employed people in each state with the growth in Ashley Madison’s membership in that same location and determined that people who lost their jobs were more likely to cheat or at least sign up for the site.
In states where the economy remained relatively strong fewer people signed up for the service, based on figures from the end of 2007 to the end of 2009.
However, there were exceptions to the finding. During that time, the site’s membership in Massachusetts nearly quadrupled even though the economy in the area wasn’t as devastated by the recession.
A second report by Christin Munsch, a sociologist at Furman University, suggests the connection between adultery and the economy was more related to a person’s income, education and satisfaction in their relationship.
Data showed that men who earned very little relative to their wives were much more likely to stray. Additionally, it was found that very wealthy women were more likely to cheat on their husbands.
Sociologists suggest the possible increase in affairs could be attributed to people looking for an escape during times of hardship.
“It may very well be that in times of distress, that one’s partner could also be viewed with antipathy, leading one to cheat,” Eric Anderson, a sociologist at the University of Winchester in England who is working as a consultant to Ashley Madison, tells the Post.
An extramarital affair might seem like an easy way for people to distract themselves from worrying about financial problems, he adds.
Of course the uptick in memberships to the Ashley Madison site could be attributed to the company’s marketing campaigns.
The economics of adultery [The Washington Post]