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Mind the “happiness” gap: the relationship between cohabitation, marriage, and subjective well-being in Australia, the UK, Germany, and Norway

Mind the “happiness” gap: the relationship between cohabitation, marriage, and subjective well-being in Australia, the UK, Germany, and Norway
Mind the “happiness” gap: the relationship between cohabitation, marriage, and subjective well-being in Australia, the UK, Germany, and Norway
Many studies have found that married people have higher subjective well-being than those who are not married. Yet the increase in cohabitation raises questions about whether only marriage has beneficial effects. Here we examine differences in subjective well-being between cohabiting and married men and women in mid-life, comparing Australia, Norway, the UK, and Germany. We apply propensity-score weighted regression analyses to examine selection processes into marriage and differential treatment bias. We find no differences between cohabitation and marriage for men in the UK and Norway, and women in Germany. We do find significant differences for men in Australia and women in Norway. The differences disappear after controlling for selection in Australia, but they unexpectedly persist for Norwegian women, only disappearing when accounting for relationship satisfaction. For German men and British and Australian women, those in a partnership with a lower propensity to marry would benefit from marriage. Controls eliminate differences for German men, but not UK women, but relationship satisfaction reduces differences. Overall, our study indicates that especially once selection and relationship satisfaction are taken into account, differences between marriage and cohabitation disappear in all countries. Marriage does not lead to higher subjective well-being; instead, cohabitation is a symptom of economic and emotional strain.
0070-3370
1219-1246
Perelli-Harris, Brienna
9d3d6b25-d710-480b-8677-534d58ebe9ed
Hoherz, Stefanie
97bd0db7-6f2f-4897-a8af-a8accd3ba73e
Lappegard, Trude
7e588c7c-0a03-4d92-8a79-6b0e2be0a42f
Evans, Ann
a1c7e888-8890-4988-89c4-8dd18e0e260b
Perelli-Harris, Brienna
9d3d6b25-d710-480b-8677-534d58ebe9ed
Hoherz, Stefanie
97bd0db7-6f2f-4897-a8af-a8accd3ba73e
Lappegard, Trude
7e588c7c-0a03-4d92-8a79-6b0e2be0a42f
Evans, Ann
a1c7e888-8890-4988-89c4-8dd18e0e260b

Perelli-Harris, Brienna, Hoherz, Stefanie, Lappegard, Trude and Evans, Ann (2019) Mind the “happiness” gap: the relationship between cohabitation, marriage, and subjective well-being in Australia, the UK, Germany, and Norway. Demography, 56 (4), 1219-1246. (doi:10.1007/s13524-019-00792-4).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Many studies have found that married people have higher subjective well-being than those who are not married. Yet the increase in cohabitation raises questions about whether only marriage has beneficial effects. Here we examine differences in subjective well-being between cohabiting and married men and women in mid-life, comparing Australia, Norway, the UK, and Germany. We apply propensity-score weighted regression analyses to examine selection processes into marriage and differential treatment bias. We find no differences between cohabitation and marriage for men in the UK and Norway, and women in Germany. We do find significant differences for men in Australia and women in Norway. The differences disappear after controlling for selection in Australia, but they unexpectedly persist for Norwegian women, only disappearing when accounting for relationship satisfaction. For German men and British and Australian women, those in a partnership with a lower propensity to marry would benefit from marriage. Controls eliminate differences for German men, but not UK women, but relationship satisfaction reduces differences. Overall, our study indicates that especially once selection and relationship satisfaction are taken into account, differences between marriage and cohabitation disappear in all countries. Marriage does not lead to higher subjective well-being; instead, cohabitation is a symptom of economic and emotional strain.

Text
Subjective well being Demography final with authors - Accepted Manuscript
Restricted to Repository staff only until 9 July 2020.
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Text
Subjective well-being Demography final with authors
Restricted to Repository staff only
Request a copy

More information

Accepted/In Press date: 19 December 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 9 July 2019
Published date: 15 August 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 430849
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/430849
ISSN: 0070-3370
PURE UUID: 1bf51168-6735-45ba-bb03-7cd1dc864443
ORCID for Brienna Perelli-Harris: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8234-4007

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 16 May 2019 16:30
Last modified: 28 Mar 2020 01:32

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Contributors

Author: Stefanie Hoherz
Author: Trude Lappegard
Author: Ann Evans

University divisions

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