Are Happy Marriages Faithful Marriages? Addressing the Endogeneity Problem

Edinaldo Tebaldi, Bruce Elmslie, University Of Canterbury
2021
What makes a person more likely to engage in an extramarital affair, and are there systematic differences between men and women? These complex questions have been central to the empirical and theoretical literature on infidelity since its interception in economics with Fair (1978) . One factor that is often found important is happiness and/or marital happiness. Men and women who are happy are less likely to have an affair. This intuitive and somewhat unsurprising result, however, is fraught
more » ... ver, is fraught with an endogeneity problem. This paper utilizes a recursive simultaneous-equations model that circumvents the endogeneity issue. Using data from the U.S. General Social Survey, we find that given equal 'prices' men and women choose differently when making decisions related to marital infidelity. Our estimates also show that happiness with marriage is the single most relevant factor explaining infidelity for both men and women. Social class, age, and divorced status also affect the likelihood of infidelity. Somewhat surprising, demographic factors including educational attainment seem to not affect infidelity.
doi:10.26021/10834 fatcat:762c6afgyjcxrpis237jwfxkvq