Does Marriage Make People Happy, or Do Happy People Get Married?

37 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2005

See all articles by Alois Stutzer

Alois Stutzer

University of Basel; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Bruno S. Frey

CREMA; University of Basel

Date Written: October 2005


This paper analyzes the causal relationships between marriage and subjective well-being in a longitudinal data set spanning 17 years. We find evidence that happier singles opt more likely for marriage and that there are large differences in the benefits from marriage between couples. Potential, as well as actual, division of labor seems to contribute to spouses' well-being, especially for women and when there is a young family to raise. In contrast, large differences in the partners' educational level have a negative effect on experienced life satisfaction.

Keywords: division of labor, marriage, selection, subjective well-being

JEL Classification: D13, I31, J12

Suggested Citation

Stutzer, Alois and Frey, Bruno S., Does Marriage Make People Happy, or Do Happy People Get Married? (October 2005). IZA Discussion Paper No. 1811, Available at SSRN: or

Alois Stutzer

University of Basel ( email )

Faculty of Business and Economics
Peter Merian-Weg 6
4002 Basel
0041 61 207 3361 (Phone)


IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Bruno S. Frey (Contact Author)

CREMA ( email )

Südstrasse 11
Zurich, CH 8008
+41 44 380 00 78 (Phone)

University of Basel ( email )

Peter Merian-Weg 6
Basel, 4002

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