شما نمی توانید شادتر از همسر خود باشید: شکاف شادی و طلاق
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|37134||2012||21 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 82, Issue 1, April 2012, Pages 110–130
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.
Introduction Are people averse to welfare inequality? Do they make happiness comparisons? And does this take place even within couples? Based on three different panel surveys, this paper suggests that the answer to each of these questions is yes. Controlling for the level of well-being2 of spouses, as well as various characteristics that have been found to be associated with marriage stability, we find that a higher happiness difference between spouses increases the risk of divorce. To the best of our knowledge, the hypothesis that happiness gaps per se (or gaps in utility) may exert an influence on the stability of marriages has never previously been explored in the literature on marriage, divorce and interactions inside couples.3 The stylized fact that we uncover challenges the existing models by proposing a new argument in the utility function of spouses, namely relative deprivation. This motive is likely to influence the optimal behavior of spouses, e.g. in terms of labor supply, as well as the framework of gender-based public policy. The evidence presented in this paper suggests that people care about the distribution of well-being per se. Income comparisons, status effects, and aversion to income inequality in general, have been widely documented, in the realm of the labor market in particular, but also in society as a whole (see Clark et al., 2008, Senik, 2009a and Senik, 2009b). However, the ultimate interest of policy-makers, researchers and human beings in general lies in well-being rather than income per se. The usual focus on income is because income, as opposed to well-being, is an observable proxy, and is a metric of well-being, not only for researchers, but also in the daily experience of workers and citizens. However, in small organizations where people are involved into frequent, repeated and long-term relationships, well-being could be observable to a certain extent. Couples are obviously an extreme case of this type of situation, and it has actually been shown that spouses are able to predict each other's declared happiness levels (Diener, 1984 and Sandvik et al., 1993). Actually, couples represent one of the rare real life groups (as opposed to experimental settings) in which researchers can be quite certain about the direction of comparisons that potentially occur between agents. The third objective of the paper is to assert the reliability of subjective variables. Showing that self-declared happiness actually has a predictive power for decisions and actions can strengthen the confidence that it reflects more than the noise produced by mood, social desirability biases, framework effects, question ordering and other unessential phenomena. In the same spirit, Freeman (1978), Clark (2001), and Kristensen and Westergaard-Nielsen (2006) have shown that job satisfaction is a strong predictor of job quits, even when controlling for wages, hours of work and other standard individual and job variables. We use three longitudinal surveys that contain a life satisfaction question labeled in very similar ways: the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP, 1984–2007), the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS, 1996–2007) and the Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia Survey (HILDA, 2001–2007). The two former surveys have been used extensively by the scientific community, especially in the field of happiness economics. We find that a happiness gap between spouses in any given year is positively associated with the likelihood that a separation will occur in the following year or in subsequent years. In order to mitigate concerns about reverse causation, we show that even a happiness gap in the first year of marriage (for couples who were surveyed during their first year of marriage) increases the risk of a future separation. The influence of happiness differences is statistically significant both for couples who form a new couple after the break-up of their initial union and for those who do not. The widening of the happiness gap is also associated with a higher risk of divorce. Happiness gaps are associated with a higher risk of future divorce even for couples whose utility is higher than what can be deemed to be their outside option. We interpret this finding as resulting from an aversion to unequal sharing of well-being within couples. This is consistent with the fact that couples who are unable to transfer utility are more at risk than others. It is also possible that assortative mating in terms of happiness baseline-level reduces the risk of divorce. However, assortative mating cannot totally explain our findings. First, a widening of the happiness gap over time increases the risk of separation. Moreover, after controlling for lagged values of the happiness gap, or for the initial value of the match (in the first year of marriage), the coefficient on the current happiness gap remains statistically significant, which we take as an indication that the effect goes beyond the initial quality of the marriage. Finally, we uncover an asymmetry in the effect of happiness difference, which is driven entirely by women who are less happy than their partner. This suggests that the destabilizing effect of happiness gaps is based on a relative deprivation motive, rather than on a pure preference for equality (in well-being).
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Conclusions This paper offers new empirical evidence on the existence of relative happiness concerns in households. Keeping constant the aggregate level of happiness or marital surplus of a couple, a greater happiness difference between spouses reduces the stability of their union. This result is robust to the inclusion of a series of controls that are classically taken to determine the stability of marriage. We address the risk of reverse causation by showing that the risk of divorce is statistically associated with the happiness gap in the first year of marriage. This finding points to the potential importance of assortative mating. However, the effect of happiness gaps goes beyond assortative mating, as is shown by estimates that neutralize the invariant quality of the marriage. Moreover, we uncover an asymmetry in the effect of the happiness gap: the latter is only a cause of divorce in cases where the woman is unhappier than her spouse. Our interpretation of these findings is that there is a concern for the distribution of happiness in couples, a comparison of well-being levels that can cause women to initiate divorce proceedings. We try to show that our finding is not attributable solely to the non-transferability of utility; however, we do not exclude role of non-transferability, implying that couples which are not able to transfer and equalize spouses’ happiness levels are more at risk of divorce. In many versions of the popular cooperative model of household bargaining, partners are represented as taking decisions sequentially, in order to maximize their joint output (or aggregate welfare) and then share it between them. This interpretation rests on the assumption that utility is transferable, i.e., that the initial distribution of well-being across spouses is easily modifiable, exactly as primary income can in principle be modified by income redistribution by the state. However, it may prove difficult to transfer utility between spouses, i.e. to modify the primary distribution of happiness that results from their actions. This could explain why assortative mating in terms of happiness is associated with a greater stability of marriage (because spouses do not need to redistribute utility). This also suggests that when spouses “agree” ex ante on a very unequal distribution of welfare, this puts the durability of their marriage at risk. From this point of view, public policy should avoid giving spouses incentives that lead to diverging levels of happiness. Individual income and employment have been shown to be among the main determinants of happiness; policies that affect the division of labor inside the household should keep this in mind.