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Desperate Housewives? Communication Difficulties and the Dynamics of Marital (un)Happiness

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  • Peter Thompson

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Florida International University)

Abstract

This 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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File URL: http://casgroup.fiu.edu/pages/docs/2247/1275232582_05-15.pdf
File Function: First version, 2005
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Florida International University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0515.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2005
Date of revision: Jan 2006
Handle: RePEc:fiu:wpaper:0515

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Web page: http://casgroup.fiu.edu/Economics/
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Keywords: marriage; divorce; communication difficulties; learning;

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References

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  1. Peter Thompson & Steven Klepper, 2005. "Spinoff Entry in High-tech Industries: Motives and Consequences," Working Papers 0503, Florida International University, Department of Economics.
  2. Qi Chen & Wei Jiang, 2006. "Analysts' Weighting of Private and Public Information," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 19(1), pages 319-355.
  3. Burdett, Kenneth & Coles, Melvyn G, 1999. "Long-Term Partnership Formation: Marriage and Employment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages F307-34, June.
  4. Busenitz, Lowell W. & Barney, Jay B., 1997. "Differences between entrepreneurs and managers in large organizations: Biases and heuristics in strategic decision-making," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 9-30, January.
  5. L. Wade, 1988. "Review," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 99-100, July.
  6. Anderson, Lisa R & Holt, Charles A, 1997. "Information Cascades in the Laboratory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 847-62, December.
  7. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-90, October.
  8. Xinhua Gu & Padma Rao Sahib, 2002. ""Living in sin" and marriage: A matching model," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 261-282.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Peter Thompson & Jing Chen, 2011. "Disagreements, employee spinoffs and the choice of technology," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(3), pages 455-474, July.
  2. Guven, Cahit & Senik, Claudia & Stichnoth, Holger, 2012. "You can’t be happier than your wife. Happiness gaps and divorce," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 110-130.
  3. Jing Chen, 2009. "Selection and Serial Entrepreneurs," Working Papers 0913, Florida International University, Department of Economics.
  4. Peter Thompson & Steven Klepper, 2009. "Disagreements and Intra-Industry Spinoffs," Working Papers 0907, Florida International University, Department of Economics.
  5. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00555427 is not listed on IDEAS

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