“It's the economy, honey!” Couples' blame attributions during the 2007–2009 economic crisis


  • This project was supported with a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Grant 5 UOI AEOOOOOI-03. The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s) and should not be construed as representing the opinions or policy of any agency of the federal government or the National Center for Family and Marriage Research.

Lisa M. Diamond, Department of Psychology, University of Utah, 380 South 1530 East, Room 502, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0251, e-mail: diamond@psych.utah.edu.


In the current study the authors surveyed a nationally representative sample of 632 cohabiting American couples during the height of the 2007–2009 economic crisis to examine associations between relationship quality and partners' attributions of causation and blame for household money problems. In couples where women attributed causation for household money problems to their partners' debts, spending, or employment, both they and their partners reported lower relationship satisfaction unless women also reported blaming the national economic crisis. Blaming one's partner for household money problems was associated with lower relationship satisfaction unless individuals also blamed themselves. Being blamed for household money problems by one's partner was associated with lower satisfaction among women, but this association was attenuated if the male partner also blamed the economic crisis.