Do Greater Interdependencies between Spouses Lead to Greater Marital Stability?

Tara L. Becker, University of Wisconsin at Madison

This study investigates the types of interdependencies marriage creates between spouses, including measures that go beyond those related to income and children. I use data from the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) and find that majorities of both men and women report depending on their marriage for their standard living, overall happiness, sex life, and being a parent. Women report higher levels of dependency in the areas of standard of living, career opportunities, and sex life, while men report higher levels of dependency on their marriage for being a parent. I find that women’s evaluations of the benefits (or disadvantages) of their marriage are related to marital stability, while only men’s evaluations of how their marriage affects their ability to be a parent and happiness are related to marital stability. Men are more likely to consider the effect that a separation would have on their spouse.

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Presented in Session 62: Union Dissolution