Info from the National Survey of Families and Households on Asymmetric Information in Marriage
  • All of this information comes from the 1987 National Survey of Families and Households. The questions are asked of all married people in the sample, and I use people between the ages of 20 and 65. The sample size is 6077. Topics
  • Happiness In and Out of Marriage
  • Density of Happiness
  • Joint Density of Happiness
  • Happiness if Separate
  • Joint Density, Happiness if Separate
  • Joint Density, Spouse Happiness if Separate
  • Subjective Probabilitity of Separation
  • Happiness of Husband if Separate
  • Happiness of Wife if Separate
  • Perceptions About Time Spent on Household Activities
  • Perceived Fairness In Marriage
  • Marginal Density
  • Joint Density
  • Frequency of Fighting in Marriage
  • Notes Happiness In and Out of Marriage
  • The picture below provides information about the happiness of people in marriage. The larger the number, the happier one is. The picture shows that the great majority of people are very happy in their marriage and differences between husbands and wives are small.

  • The picture below provides information about the joint density of happiness of husbands and wives. One can see that the most common outcome is that both spouses are happy. The correlation of happiness is 0.20.

  • The picture below provides information on how happy people say they would be and how happy they say their spouse would be if they separated. Each picture has four bars. The bars labeled "Respondent" are answers by the family member about him- or herself. For example, "Respondent-Husband" is how happy the husband says he would be if he and his wife separated. The bars labeled "Spouse" are answers by the spouse about the other family member. For example, "Spouse-Husband" is about how happy the wife says the husband would be if they separated. First note that most people say they would be worse off if separated and say their spouse would be worse off if separated. Next note that husbands and wives agree about the effect of separation on the husband (compare purple and blue curves). However, husbands underestimate how unhappy wives would be if they separated.

  • The picture above does not compare directly husbands and wives from the same family. The picture below provides information about the joint density of perceived happiness associated with separation. The groups along the horizontal axis disaggregate by the wife's perceptions, and the colors in the legend disaggregate by the husband's perceptions. For example, the maroon bar in "Worse" means that 16% of families have a husband who says he would be worse off and wife who says she would be worse off if they separated. As in the picture above, most husbands and wives would be worse off if they separated. For the purposes of this analysis, the critical bars are those where the wife is happy in marriage and the husband is not (the yellow, light blue, and black bars for "Worse" and "Much Worse") and those where the husband is happy in marriage and the wife is not (the lavendar and maroon bars for "Better" and "Much Better"). The former group represents 12.6% of the sample, and the latter group represents 3.25% of the sample.

  • The picture below provides information about the joint density of perceived happiness of the spouse associated with separation. The groups along the horizontal axis disaggregate by the wife's perceptions, and the colors in the legend disaggregate by the husband's perceptions. For example, the maroon bar in "Worse" means that 24% of families have a husband who says his wife would be worse off and a wife who says her husband would be worse off if they separated. As in the picture above, most husbands and wives think their spouses would be worse off if they separated. For the purposes of this analysis, the critical bars are those where the wife thinks her husband is happy in marriage and the husband thinks his wife is not (the yellow, light blue, and black bars for "Worse" and "Much Worse") and those where the husband thinks his wife is happy in marriage and the wife thinks her husband is not (the lavendar and maroon bars for "Better" and "Much Better"). These beliefs are not consistent with precise information and optimizing behavior. The former group represents 10.8% of the sample, and the latter group represents 4.5% of the sample.

  • The picture below provides information about the joint density of perceived happiness of the husband associated with separation. The groups along the horizontal axis disaggregate by the wife's perceptions, and the colors in the legend disaggregate by the husband's perceptions. For example, the maroon bar in "Worse" means that 21% of families have a husband who says he would be worse off and a wife who says her husband would be worse off if they separated. As in the picture above, most husbands and wives think that the husband would be worse off if they separated. For the purposes of this analysis, the critical bars are those where the wife thinks her husband would be unhappy if separated and the husband says he would be happy if separated (the yellow, light blue, and black bars for "Worse" and "Much Worse"). These are marriages where a divorce should occur because of asymmetric information about the husband's happiness in marriage. These represent 14.7% of families.

  • The picture below provides information about the joint density of perceived happiness of the wife associated with separation. The groups along the horizontal axis disaggregate by the husband's perceptions, and the colors in the legend disaggregate by the wife's perceptions. For example, the maroon bar in "Worse" means that 14% of families have a wife who says she would be worse off and a husband who says his wife would be worse off if they separated. As in the picture above, most husbands and wives think that the wife would be worse off if they separated. For the purposes of this analysis, the critical bars are those where the husband thinks his wife would be unhappy if separated and the wife says she would be happy if separated (the yellow, light blue, and black bars for "Worse" and "Much Worse"). These are marriages where a divorce should occur because of asymmetric information about the wife's happiness in marriage. These represent 11.8% of families.

  • The picture below provides information on people's subjective probability of separating. Most couples think the probability of separating is small, and husbands and wives agree on average.

    Perceptions About Time Spent on Household Activities
  • The following pictures provide information about the distribution of time spent on various household activities across families. Each picture has four curves. The curves labeled "Respondent" are answers by the family member about him- or herself. For example, "Respondent-Husband" is about the time the husband says he spends on a particular activity. The curves labeled "Spouse" are answers by the spouse about the family member. For example, "Spouse-Husband" is about the time the wife says the husband spends on a particular activity. These are distribution curves, so, for example, a lower curve for wives mean that more wives spend more time on that activity than husbands. The most striking thing about these pictures, at least for this analysis, is how much the spouses know about the household activities of each other. One can see this by comparing the proximity of blue and red curves (wife's time) and green and purple curves (husband's time). As one might expect, wives spend more time on household activities than husbands with a few exceptions.

    Perceived Fairness In Marriage
  • The following pictures provide information about the perceived fairness of various aspects of the family relationship. The curves are labeled by which family member is responding. The most striking aspect of the pictures is that the predominantly modal response is that everyone is being treated fairly. For household chores and childcare, a significant number of wives say that they are being treated somewhat unfairly, and a significant number of husbands agree.

  • The pictures above do not tell you whether the husband and wife in the same family have common perceptions about fairness. The following pictures provide information about the joint density between husband and wife of perceived fairness of various aspects of the family relationship. The different groups on the horizontal axis disaggregate by wife's perception, and the colors in the legend disaggregate by husband's perception. The pictures tell a story consistent with the marginal density pictures above. The only new information is that about 10% of families have a husband who says that childcare is unfair to him with a wife saying it is fair.

    Frequency of Fighting in Marriage
  • The following pictures provide information about the frequency of fighting within a marriage about various topics. First, one should note that the couple generally agrees. This is not surprising because it takes two to tango (and fight). Second, one should note the infrequency of fighting in general.

    Notes
  • Definitions of variables and values are defined in the codebook.
  • Missing Value Analysis
  • Moments of Data
  • Demographic Variables
  • Proportion of Interview Overheard by Spouse
  • Time Spent in Household Activities
  • Perceived Fairness
  • Frequency of Fights
  • Stability of Marriage
  • Religious Fundamentalism
  • Differences of Answers Across Spouses
  • Differences of Answers Across Spouses for Same Respondent
  • Moments of Data Disaggregated by Exogenous Variables
  • Disaggregated by Age
  • Disaggregated by Race
  • Disaggregated by Education
  • Disaggregated by Proportion of Interview Overheard by Spouse
  • Comparison of Means of Data Disaggregated by Exogenous Variables
  • chi-sq test statistics test H0: means do not vary
  • Disaggregated by Age
  • Disaggregated by Race
  • Disaggregated by Education
  • Disaggregated by Proportion of Interview Overheard by Spouse
  • Marginal Densities of Data
  • Joint Densities of Data
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