Economics serving society

“For richer, for poorer”: savings preferences and choice of spouse

Luc Arrondel and Nicolas Frémeaux

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The cultural, social and economic homogamy is widely studied and explains wealth inequalities between households: but do couples share the same preferences to risk and time? Theoretically, all combinations are possible. Relying on the PATER Survey* conducted in 2007 among 1,000 French couples, Luc Arrondel and Nicolas Frémeaux measure preferences vis-à-vis savings (risk aversions, time preferences, altruism). Individual preferences indicators are built through conventional measurements and an original scoring method of different issues: car safety belt, vaccinations, risks at work, marriage vision, time management during travels and holidays, etc.
The authors find that spouses are very similar in their savings preferences from the early years of cohabitation (although attitudes tend to be even more similar over time). This “psychological homogamy” remains true when comparing the socioeconomic characteristics of spouse (age, religion, social origin…). These conclusions are decisive in explaining wealth inequalities between households, since homogamy causes a divide in the population: people who are more precautionary, farsighted and altruistic tend to accumulate more wealth…and their mutual attraction reinforces this virtuous circle.
* Patrimoine et préférences vis à vis du temps et du risque
Original title of the article: “For richer, for poorer”: savings preferences and choice of spouse
Published in : Working paper PjSE n°2013-02
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