November 2013

IZA DP No. 7769: Does Patience Matter for Marriage Stability? Some Evidence from Italy

published in Review of Economics of the Household

Time preferences can affect divorce probability both affecting the quality of the match and affecting the spouses' reactions to negative shocks. We analyze the relationship between time preferences and divorce decisions using data from the Italian Survey on Household Income and Wealth, which provides a measure of time preferences based on a hypothetical financial situation in which individuals have to decide how much money to give up in order to receive a certain amount of money today instead of in one year's time. Controlling for a number of individual and family characteristics, we find that an increase in impatience of one standard deviation increases the probability of experiencing divorce by almost one percentage point. Our results are not affected by reverse causality problems and are robust when controlling for individual risk attitudes. We also find that more risk averse individuals are less likely to experience divorce.