Credit Scores and Committed Relationships

FEDS Working Paper No. 2015-081

57 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2015  

Jane Dokko

Brookings Institution

Geng Li

Federal Reserve Board

Jessica Hayes

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Date Written: August 29, 2015


This paper presents novel evidence on the role of credit scores in the dynamics of committed relationships. We document substantial positive assortative matching with respect to credit scores, even when controlling for other socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. As a result, individual-level differences in access to credit are largely preserved at the household level. Moreover, we find that the couples’ average level of and the match quality in credit scores, measured at the time of relationship formation, are highly predictive of subsequent separations. This result arises, in part, because initial credit scores and match quality predict subsequent credit usage and financial distress, which in turn are correlated with relationship dissolution. Credit scores and match quality appear predictive of subsequent separations even beyond these credit channels, suggesting that credit scores reveal an individual’s relationship skill and level of commitment. We present ancillary evidence supporting the interpretation of this skill as trustworthiness.

Keywords: Credit scores, Committed relationships, Assortative matching, Household finance, Trustworthiness

JEL Classification: D14, G21, J12

Suggested Citation

Dokko, Jane and Li, Geng and Hayes, Jessica, Credit Scores and Committed Relationships (August 29, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Jane Dokko

Brookings Institution ( email )

1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Geng Li (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Board ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

Jessica Hayes

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

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