Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance,
Stockholm School of Economics

No 631: Specialization and Happiness: A U.S.-Japan Comparison

Hiroshi Ono () and Kristen Schultz Lee ()
Additional contact information
Hiroshi Ono: Texas A&M University, Postal: Department of Sociology, 416 Academic Building, College Station, TX 77843-4351, USA
Kristen Schultz Lee: University at Buffalo, SUNY, Postal: Department of Sociology, 430 Park Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260-4140, USA

Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between specialization and happiness in marriage in the U.S. and Japan. Our findings, based on the General Social Surveys in the U.S. and Japan, indicate both similarities and differences in the determinants of marital happiness in the two countries. In the U.S., the findings are mixed. Women in the U.S. are more likely to embrace the bargaining model where their happiness is determined by their own income. Men in the U.S. are more likely to support the specialization model; they are happier if their wives are not working or, alternatively, if they are financially dependent on their wives. In Japan, we find support for the specialization model, particularly in the case of women; they are happier if they are specialized in the household and they have a higher household income. Our research highlights how marital quality is affected by the institutional context and the normative environment.

Keywords: gender; family; marital happiness; specialization; bargaining

JEL-codes: D13; J12; J16

35 pages, First version: May 1, 2006. Revised: February 18, 2008.

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