Lee, J., Yoo, J., Chin, M., Son, S., Sung, M., & Chang, Y. E. (2022). Pathways from economic hardship to couple conflict by socioeconomic status during COVID‐19 in Korea.

The purpose of this study was to examine the direct andindirect relationships among economic hardship, economic strain, emotionalstress, and couple conflict for married Koreans during the COVID‐19 pandemic.In particular, we investigated whether these pathways were different betweenlower and higher socioeconomic status (SES) groups. Background: Due to theglobal economic downturn brought on by COVID‐19, many couples experiencedeconomic hardship including increased household debt, job loss, and reducedwork hours. This context provides a valuable opportunity to test the familystress model (FSM) of romantic relationships, which explains the indirectpathways from economic hardship to couple‐level outcomes. Method: Wecollected the data using an online survey in May 2020, when the Seoulmetropolitan area experienced the first surge of COVID‐19 cases. The samplecame from 605 married Korean adults (282 women, 323 men) and was analyzedusing multigroup path analysis. Results: Among the three markers of economichardship, increased household debt had a stronger association with coupleconflict for lower SES respondents directly and indirectly through elevatedeconomic strain and emotional distress. The total effects of job loss andreduced work hours on more frequent couple conflict were stronger for thehigher SES group. Conclusion: The process from the three markers of economichardship to couple conflict was different depending on socioeconomicresources. Implications: Family practitioners need to consider SES variationsand to work with financial counselors to better support couples with botheconomic and relationship difficulties.