Is Marriage Rational?

The authors of a new book called Spousonomics asked the behavioral economist Dan Ariely a bunch of questions about marriage. He sent them this video answer.

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Ariely studies irrational behavior, so they ask him whether marriage is rational. Early in the video, he hedges on the question. But he does say marriage is a better deal for men than for women:

In general, men increase their happiness more when they get married, women not as much — partially because in society women take more of the grunt [work] of married life and get less of the benefit.

Later in the video, Ariely comes right out with a more direct answer: "The fact is that marriage is really not rational," at least not in economic terms.

In economic terms, marriage is a "production facility," something that people do to share work and live more efficiently. "That describes very little of married life," Ariely says. "Economics has taught me very little about marriage."

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