Intermarriage on subjective social status and spousal dissimilarity in life satisfaction of co-resident heterosexual South African couples
Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 03/21
Date: January 2021
The aim of this study is to determine how intermarriage on subjective social status is associated with spousal dissimilarity in overall life satisfaction in co-resident heterosexual couples in South Africa. Previous research suggests that intermarriage puts marriages and relationships at risk of dissolution and so too does spousal dissimilarity in subjective well-being. To our knowledge, the association of intermarriage with spousal dissimilarity in subjective well-being has not been explored in the literature. We apply fixed effects regression models to a sample of 8,918 married and cohabiting dyads constructed from the longitudinal and nationally representative South African National Income Dynamics Study. There is no spousal dissimilarity in overall life satisfaction under pure homogamy. In wife advantaged and currently hypogamic relationships females are more satisfied with life than their male partners, whereas the opposite is true in husband advantaged and currently hypergamic relationships as well as in wife exchanges. Intermarriage on subjective social status may put marriages and relationships at risk of dissolution due to its association with spousal dissimilarity in overall life satisfaction. Further research is required to present a more complete and integrated account of how spousal dissimilarity in subjective well-being may mediate the impact of intermarriage on the dissolution of unions and relationships.