Danny Finkelstein says economic freedom and prosperity have led to family breakdown. I agree. There are numerous mechanisms here.
Start with the dishwasher. This embodies an important feature of economic growth - it's given us labour-saving household technologies. Thanks to dishwashers, microwaves and the like, people no longer need to spend hours on household chores.
This has had several effects, described by Jeremy Greenwood. It means it's more technically feasible for men and women to live alone. That alone has reduced the marriage rate and increased the divorce rate. It also means wives have had the time to enter the workforce. That's led to more affairs - as men and women meet more often away from their spouses eyes at the workplace. And in giving women an income outside marriage, it's increased their ability to divorce their hubbies.
This, though, is not the only way in which divorce has risen, and marriage fallen, because women no longer need a meal ticket. One feature of economic growth is a decline in relative demand for physical strength and increased demand for intellectual or social skills. This too has led to increased numbers of women workers - and the more skilled among them are not marrying and having children.
A third mechanism is creative destruction. Economic growth is - in the long-run - often fastest where job destruction rates are high, as this frees up resources for more productive uses. But job loss leads to more divorce (pdf), not least because it signals to people that their spouse is no longer the meal ticket they thought.
Also, economic growth is associated (the causality goes both ways) with social and geographical mobility. This means people are less likely to meet like-minded others. That means less chance of marriage, and possibly more chance of bad marriages that don't last.
Finally, economic growth raises people's aspirations - it encourages the belief that you can have more, "because you're worth it." This in turn creates dissatisfaction, with the result that a wife with a mediocre spouse is less likely to stand by her man*.
So, I reckon Danny's right. Family breakdown - not just more divorce but fewer marriages in the first place - is a necessary part of the consumer revolution, not just something separate.
This could be a big part of the solution to the Easterlin paradox - the finding that economic growth doesn't make us much happier. Good marriages are fantastic (pdf) for our health and happiness. So if prosperity ecoonmic growth causes there to be fewer of them, it won't make us happier.
* reference to proper music inserted as an antidote to Danny's talk of some over-rated scousers.