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Education, Personality and Separation: The Distribution of Relationship Skills across Society

  • Diederik Boertien
  • Christian von Scheve
  • Mona Park
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    The reasons why the lower educated divorce more than the higher educated in many societies today are poorly understood. Distinct divorce risks by education could be caused by variation in pressures to the couple, commitment, or relationship skills. We concentrate on the latter explanation by looking at the distribution of personality traits across society and its impact on the educational gradient in divorce in Germany. Using data on married couples from the German Socio Economic Panel (N = 9 417) we first estimate the effect of several personality traits on divorce: the tendency to forgive, negative reciprocity, positive reciprocity, and the Big Five. We also account for and find non-linear effects of several personality traits on divorce risk, which is relevant for future research on the effects of personality. In addition, effects differ by level of education. We find personality traits that affect divorce risk to be unevenly distributed over educational groups, but contrary to expectation to favor the lower educated. Once taking into account personality the educational gradient in divorce becomes more negative. This is due to especially high scores on openness to experience for the higher educated, which is a very significant predictor of divorce risk. Overall, we find no support for the hypothesis that the lower educated have less relationship skills in Germany.

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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.408473.de/diw_sp0487.pdf
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    Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 487.

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    Length: 20 p.
    Date of creation: 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp487
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    1. Michael Weinhardt & Jürgen Schupp, 2011. "Die Messung individueller Vergebungstendenz im SOEP: Skaleneigenschaften der deutschen Version der Tendency-to-Forgive-Scale," Data Documentation 56, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Jay Teachman, 2002. "Stability across cohorts in divorce risk factors," Demography, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 331-351, May.
    3. Sara Mclanahan, 2004. "Diverging destinies: How children are faring under the second demographic transition," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(4), pages 607-627, November.
    4. Scott Hankins & Mark Hoekstra, 2011. "Lucky in Life, Unlucky in Love?: The Effect of Random Income Shocks on Marriage and Divorce," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(2), pages 403-426.
    5. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
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