Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 337–362 | Cite as

The marital satisfaction of differently aged couples

  • Wang-Sheng LeeEmail author
  • Terra McKinnish
Original Paper


We investigate how the marital age gap affects the evolution of marital satisfaction over the duration of marriage using household panel data from Australia. We find that men tend to be more satisfied with younger wives and less satisfied with older wives. Interestingly, women likewise tend to be more satisfied with younger husbands and less satisfied with older husbands. Marital satisfaction declines with marital duration for both men and women in differently aged couples relative to those in similarly aged couples. These relative declines erase the initial higher levels of marital satisfaction experienced by men married to younger wives and women married to younger husbands within 6 to 10 years of marriage. A possible mechanism is that differently aged couples are less resilient to negative shocks compared to similarly aged couples, which we find some supportive evidence for.


Assortative matching Marital age gap Marital duration Marital satisfaction 

JEL classification

D1 J12 



We are grateful to two anonymous referees for providing very helpful comments and suggestions. This paper uses unit record data from the Household, Income, and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The HILDA Project was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (Melbourne Institute). The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the author and should not be attributed to either DSS or the Melbourne Institute.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsDeakin University and IZABurwoodAustralia
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Colorado and IZABoulderUSA

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