Research Paper

Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 1575-1584

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Relative Income and Marital Happiness Among Urban Chinese Women: The Moderating Role of Personal Commitment

  • Huiping ZhangAffiliated withDepartment of Social Work, The School of Sociology and Population Studies, Renmin University of China Email author 
  • , Sandra Kit Man TsangAffiliated withDepartment of Social Work, The University of Hong Kong


Compared with the rich knowledge in the West, studies of the impact of wives’ relative income on marital quality during the fast socioeconomic change period in urban China have surprisingly fallen far behind. This study attempted to examine the impact of relative income on marital happiness among urban Chinese women. Using an urban Beijing sample of 763 married women, this study found that a woman married to a husband with lower income tended to be less happy with her marriage, but this effect will be countered if there is more love in the sense of a genuine concern about the well-being of the partner and a willing to make sacrifice for him. The results were interpreted from theoretical verification and possible mechanisms linking personal commitment and marital happiness.


Wives’ relative income Marital happiness Personal commitment Urban China