Thousands of couples could split up as a result of Britain’s crumbling property market, economists warn.

An academic study compared household questionnaires with property market results over 14 years and found that sudden falls in prices are followed by an increase in separations.

They calculate that a 10% fall in house prices leads to a 5 per cent increase in the number of couples splitting up, which could mean thousands more family breakdowns in Britain as the economy slips into recession.

Researchers at the Institute for Social and Economic Research, based at the University of Essex, claim the stress associated with increased financial worries and the fear of falling into negative equity — where a home owner’s mortgage is more than the value of their house — puts so much pressure on married and cohabiting couples that many relationships fall apart.

Daily Telegraph