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So, What Did You Do Last Night? The Economics of Infidelity

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  • Bruce Elmslie
  • Edinaldo Tebaldi

Abstract

This paper develops an economic analysis of infidelity concentrating on the question of how cheating behavior differs between men and women. We develop an expected utility model that borrows from evolutionary biology to form expectations regarding behavior towards infidelity. We use U.S. data from the General Social Survey (GSS) and a Probit model to assess some characteristics of the respondent and his or her spouse that determine the probability of having an extramarital affair. While biology may form basic preferences, some of our results are consistent with the view that people are able to act on more than their base biological instincts alone. Hence, economic theory has a role to play in the understanding of behavior relating to infidelity. More specifically, this study identifies age, social class, individual's own education and the spouse's educational attainment as underlying factors affecting infidelity behavior depending on gender. In general, we find that men and women respond differently to the costs and benefits of having an affair. Copyright 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce Elmslie & Edinaldo Tebaldi, 2008. "So, What Did You Do Last Night? The Economics of Infidelity," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 391-410, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:61:y:2008:i:3:p:391-410
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Roderick Duncan, 2003. "Does Sex and the City Predict the Future of Marriage?," Challenge, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(3), pages 73-88.
    2. Fair, Ray C, 1978. "A Theory of Extramarital Affairs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(1), pages 45-61, February.
    3. Samuel Cameron, 2002. "The Economics Of Partner Out Trading in Sexual Markets," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 195-222, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Batabyal, Amitrajeet & Beladi, Hamid, 2016. "Cheating on Your Spouse: A Game-Theoretic Analysis," MPRA Paper 75758, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Kuroki, Masanori, 2013. "Opposite-sex coworkers and marital infidelity," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 71-73.
    3. Adamopoulou, Effrosyni, 2013. "New facts on infidelity," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 121(3), pages 458-462.
    4. Bruce T. Elmslie & Edinaldo Tebaldi, 2014. "The determinants of marital happiness," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(28), pages 3452-3462, October.
    5. Johan Almenberg & Anna Dreber, 2009. "Lady and the Trump: Status and Wealth in the Marriage Market," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(2), pages 161-181, April.
    6. Ian Smith, 2012. "Reinterpreting the economics of extramarital affairs," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 319-343, September.
    7. repec:spr:jqecon:v:16:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s40953-017-0081-8 is not listed on IDEAS

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