Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Subjective Well-being and Partnership Dynamics; Are Same-sex Relationships Different?

Author(s): Shuai Chen and Jan C. van Ours

Publication Date: September 2017

Keyword(s): Cohabitation, Happiness, Marriage, Sexual orientation and Subjective well-being

Programme Area(s): Labour Economics

Abstract: Partnered individuals are happier than singles. This can be because partnership leads to more satisfactory subjective well-being or because happier people are more likely to find a partner. We analyze Dutch panel data to investigate whether there is a causal effect of partnership on subjective well-being. Our data allow us to distinguish between marriage and cohabitation and between same-sex partnerships and opposite-sex ones. Our results support the short-term crisis model and adaptation theory. We find that marital partnership improves well-being and that these benefits are homogeneous to sexual orientation. The well-being gains of marriage are larger than those of cohabitation. Investigating partnership formation and disruption, we discover that the well-being effects are symmetric. Finally, we find that marriage improves well-being for both younger and older cohorts while cohabitation only benefits younger cohort.

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Bibliographic Reference

Chen, S and van Ours, J. 2017. 'Subjective Well-being and Partnership Dynamics; Are Same-sex Relationships Different?'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.