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The determinants of marital happiness

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This study contributes to the literature by providing an empirical analysis of the determinants of marital and general happiness. The empirical analysis is conducted using US data from the General Social Survey (GSS) and an Ordered Probit Model. We also attempt to overcome the endogeneity problem between marital happiness and infidelity using a recursive bivariate probit model. One of the advances of this study is to show that the determinants of marital happiness differ between men and women in interesting ways. While infidelity has similar effects for both sexes, we find that women have a detectable preference for a traditional division of labour within the household. In addition, social class, religion, age, children and income have differential effects between men and women. In particular, for marital happiness we find diminishing returns from household income for women and satiation for men. Hence, we find that most of the existing literature has left hidden important differences in the determinants of marital happiness between men and women.

Keywords: J1; J12; children; general happiness; infidelity; marital happiness

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Economics, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, USA 2: Department of Economics, Bryant University, Smithfield, RI, USA

Publication date: October 2, 2014

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