Desperate Housewives? Communication Difficulties and the Dynamics of Marital (un)Happiness
AbstractThis paper develops a model of marital dissolution based on communication difficulties. The quality of a marriage depends on the proximity of an action to a target. The target is unknown, and must be learned over time. Each individual receives private signals about the target, and can communicate them only imperfectly to his or her spouse. Because of imperfect communication, spouses may hold different beliefs about the optimal action. The action actually chosen is a compromise of the spouses’ distinct beliefs. If a couple’s beliefs diverge too widely, one or both of them may prefer to dissolve the marriage. The paper explores how poor communication contributes to marital unhappiness, as well as its implications for the dynamics of divorce risk, the welfare properties of divorce decisions, and the role of counseling. When the distribution of decision-making power in the household favors men, wives (but not husbands) can find themselves trapped for prolonged periods in a marriage that leaves them as unhappy as it is possible to be without seeking relief through divorce.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Florida International University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0515.
Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2005
Date of revision: Jan 2006
marriage; divorce; communication difficulties; learning;
Other versions of this item:
- Peter Thompson, 2008. "Desperate Housewives? Communication Difficulties and the Dynamics of Marital (un)Happiness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(532), pages 1640-1669, October.
- J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
- D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
- D79 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Other
- D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search, Learning, and Information
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2005-10-04 (All new papers)
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- repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00555427 is not listed on IDEAS
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