NPR logo Is Marriage Rational?

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.

YouTube

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."