Two Sides of the Same Coin? The Differing Roles of Assets and Consumer Debt in Marriage
- 698 Downloads
This study examines whether assets and consumer debts relate to change in marital satisfaction and conflict in opposing ways or in independent ways. It also tests whether these relationships are direct or mediated. Using a nationally representative longitudinal sample, the results indicate that assets and consumer debt influence change in marital outcomes in mostly independent rather than complementary ways. Consistent with prior literature, assets work indirectly by decreasing feelings of economic pressure. Consumer debt, however, directly predicts changes in marital conflict, even after controlling for variables in the family stress model. Debts also act indirectly by decreasing depression once economic pressure is included in the model. This unexpected suppressor effect suggests that the meaning of debts may not be straightforward.
KeywordsAssets Conflict Debts Marriage Satisfaction
The author would like to thank David Eggebeen, Chalandra Bryant, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on a previous draft. A portion of this study was presented as a poster at the 2005 annual conference of the Population Association of America.
- Baker, D. (2004). Dangerous trends: The growth of debt in the US economy. Retrieved from the Center for Economic and Policy Research Web site: http://www.cepr.net/publications/debt_trends.htm. Accessed 3 August 2005.
- Bumpass, L., & Lu, H. H. (2000). Trends in cohabitation and implications for children’s family contexts in the United States. Population Studies, 54, 29–41.Google Scholar
- Caputo, R. K. (2003). Assets and economic mobility in a youth cohort, 1985–1997. Families in Society, 84, 51–62.Google Scholar
- Carney, S., & Gale, W. G. (2001). Asset accumulation among low-income households. In T. M. Shapiro, & E. N. Wolff (Eds.), Assets for the poor: The benefits of spreading asset ownership (pp. 165–205). New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
- Conger, R. D., Ge, X. J., & Lorenz, F. O. (1994). Economic stress and marital relations. In R. D. Conger, & G. H. Elder, Jr. (Eds.), Families in troubled times (pp. 187–203). New York: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Elder, G. H. Jr., Robertson, E. B., & Foster, E. M. (1994). Survival, loss, and adaptation: A perspective on farm families. In R. D. Conger, & G. H. Elder, Jr. (Eds.), Families in troubled times (pp. 105–126). New York: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Ervin, L. H., & Stryker, S. (2001). Theorizing the relationship between self-esteem and identity. In T. J. Owens, S. Stryker, & N. Goodman (Eds.), Extending self-esteem theory and research (pp. 29–55). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Federal Reserve Board (20046). Consumer credit: December 2003. Federal reserve statistical release. Retrieved from http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g19/20040206/. Accessed 16 February 2004.
- Fletschner, D., & Klawitter, M. (2005). Yours, mine, and ours: How married couples hold their savings. Paper presented at the meeting of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
- Johnson, D. R. (1993). Are single-item measures of marital quality valid? The case of marital happiness. Paper presented at the meeting of the National Council on Family Relations, Baltimore, MD.Google Scholar
- Kennickell, A., & Starr-McCluer, M. (1994). Changes in family finances from 1989–1992: Evidence from the survey of consumer finances. Federal Reserve Bulliten, 80, 861–882.Google Scholar
- Lasley, P. (1994). Rural economic and social trends. In R. D. Conger, & G. H. Elder, Jr. (Eds.), Families in troubled times (pp. 57–78). New York: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Lupton, J. P., & Smith, J. P. (2003). Marriage, assets, and savings. In S. A. Grossbard-Shechtman (Eds.), Marriage and the economy (pp. 129–151). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Maki, D. M. (2000). The growth of consumer credit and the household debt service burden. Retrieved from Federal Reserve Board’s Finance and Economic Discussion Series Web site from http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2000/200012/200012pap.pdf. Accessed 1 April 2004.
- Masnick, G. S., Di, Z. X., & Belsky, E. S. (2005). Emerging cohort trends in housing debt and home equity. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Population Association of America, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
- Muntaner, C., Eaton, W. W. Diala, C., Kessler, R. C., & Sorlie, P. D. (1998). Social class, assets, organizational control and the prevalence of common groups of psychiatric disorders. Social Science and Medicine, 42, 2043–2053.Google Scholar
- Murdock, S. H., Hamm, R. R., Potter, L. B., & Albrecht, D. E. (1988). Demographic characteristics of rural residents in financial distress, social and community impacts of the farm crisis. In S. H. Murdock, & F. L. Leistritz (Eds.), The farm financial crisis (pp. 113–140). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
- Peterson, C. L. (2004). Taming the sharks: Towards a cure for the high cost credit market. Akron, OH: University of Akron Press.Google Scholar
- Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385–401.Google Scholar
- Schor, J. B. (1998). The overspent American. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Sherraden, M. (1991). Assets and the poor. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.Google Scholar
- Townsend, N. W. (2002). The package deal: Marriage, work, and fatherhood in men’s lives. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
- US Courts (1997). Judicial business of the United States courts 1997. Retreived at http://www.uscourts.gov/judicial_business/f00sep97.pdf. Accessed 3 August 2005.
- US Courts (1998). Judicial business of the United States courts 1998. Retreived at http://www.uscourts.gov/dirrpt98/f00sep98.pdf. Accessed 3 August 2005.
- US Courts (2000). Judicial business of the United States courts 2000. Retreived at http://www.uscourts.gov/judbus2000/appendices/f00sep00.pdf. Accessed 3 August 2005.
- US Courts (2002). Judicial business of the United States courts 2002. Retreived at http://www.uscourts.gov/judbus2002/appendices/f00sep02.pdf. Accessed 3 August 2005.
- US Courts (2004). Judicial business of the United States courts 2004. Retreived at http://www.uscourts.gov/judbus2004/appendices/f1.pdf. Accessed 3 August 2005.
- US Department of Commerce (2005). Personal income and outlays: June 2005. Bureau of economic analysis news release, July (2005). Retrieved at http://www.bea.gov/bea/newsrelarchive/2005/pi0605.pdf. Accessed 3 August 2005.
- Waite, L. J. (1995). Does marriage matter? Demography, 32, 483–507.Google Scholar
- Xiao, J. J. (1996). Effects of family income and life cycle stages on financial asset ownership. Financial Counseling and Planning, 7, 21–30.Google Scholar
- Yadama, G. N., & Sherraden, M. (1996). Effects of assets on attitudes and behaviors: Advanced test of a social policy proposal. Social Work Research, 20, 3–11.Google Scholar