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You can't be happier than your wife. Happiness gaps and divorce

Author

Listed:
  • Cahit Guven

    (Deakin University - Deakin University)

  • Claudia Senik

    (PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris, PSE - Paris School of Economics, UP4 - Université Paris-Sorbonne)

  • Holger Stichnoth

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung - ZEW)

Abstract

Based on three large panel surveys, this paper shows that happiness gaps between spouses are a good predictor of future divorce. The effect of happiness gaps is asymmetric: couples are more likely to break-up when the woman is the less happy partner. De facto, divorces appear to be initiated predominantly by women who are less happy than their husband. This asymmetry suggests that the effect of happiness gaps is grounded on motives of relative deprivation (i.e. comparisons of happiness between spouses) rather than on a preference for equal happiness.

Suggested Citation

  • Cahit Guven & Claudia Senik & Holger Stichnoth, 2012. "You can't be happier than your wife. Happiness gaps and divorce," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" halshs-00754595, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:pseose:halshs-00754595
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2012.01.003
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal-pjse.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00754595
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness; Divorce; Comparisons; Panel; Households; Marriage;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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