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

Diederik Boertien, Christian von Scheve, Mona Park
2012 Social Science Research Network  
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more » ... bedingungen die in der dort genannten Lizenz gewährten Nutzungsrechte. SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research at DIW Berlin This series presents research findings based either directly on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) or using SOEP data as part of an internationally comparable data set (e.g. CNEF, ECHP, LIS, LWS, CHER/PACO). SOEP is a truly multidisciplinary household panel study covering a wide range of social and behavioral sciences: economics, sociology, psychology, survey methodology, econometrics and applied statistics, educational science, political science, public health, behavioral genetics, demography, geography, and sport science. The decision to publish a submission in SOEPpapers is made by a board of editors chosen by the DIW Berlin to represent the wide range of disciplines covered by SOEP. There is no external referee process and papers are either accepted or rejected without revision. Papers appear in this series as works in progress and may also appear elsewhere. They often represent preliminary studies and are circulated to encourage discussion. Citation of such a paper should account for its provisional character. A revised version may be requested from the author directly. Any opinions expressed in this series are those of the author(s) and not those of DIW Berlin. Research disseminated by DIW Berlin may include views on public policy issues, but the institute itself takes no institutional policy positions. The SOEPpapers are available at * Acknowledgment: We thank Gabriel Bartl for handling and preparation of SOEP data and Jürgen Schupp for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. Abstract 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. Education, personality and divorce
doi:10.2139/ssrn.2149402 fatcat:5dnvvffmcrf53fek5bhoi7xgl4