Support from the College of Arts & Sciences Summer Research Fund, Florida International University, is gratefully acknowledged. I am grateful for helpful comments from my wife, few of which I understood.
Desperate Housewives? Communication Difficulties and the Dynamics of Marital (Un)happiness*
Article first published online: 20 SEP 2008
© The Author(s). Journal compilation © Royal Economic Society 2008
The Economic Journal
Volume 118, Issue 532, pages 1640–1669, October 2008
How to Cite
Thompson, P. (2008), Desperate Housewives? Communication Difficulties and the Dynamics of Marital (Un)happiness. The Economic Journal, 118: 1640–1669. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0297.2008.02184.x
- Issue published online: 20 SEP 2008
- Article first published online: 20 SEP 2008
- Submitted: 27 February 2006 Accepted: 18 July 2007
The quality of a marriage depends on the proximity of a collective action to a unknown target. Individuals receive private signals about the target, and can communicate them only imperfectly to their spouses. Because of imperfect communication, spouses may hold different beliefs about the optimal action. If a couple's beliefs diverge too widely, one or both of them may prefer to dissolve the marriage. The article explores how poor communication contributes to marital unhappiness, as well as its implications for the dynamics of divorce risk, the welfare properties of divorce decisions and the role of counselling.