Continuing our money and relationships theme this week: in a new study called “The Effect of Relative Income Disparity on Infidelity for Men and Women,” researcher Christin Munsch, a sociology Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University, said that men who are totally economically dependent on their female partners are five times more likely to cheat than men in relationships with women who earned similar amounts.
The findings of this study, which examined 18-to 28-year-old married and cohabitating respondents who were in the same relationship for more than a year, suggest that “women making more money than men may threaten the male’s traditional view of being the breadwinner.”
Ironically though, men who make significantly more than their female partners were also more likely to cheat. The idea here is that “the job or position they work may require long work hours and travel. Those factors could create an easier environment for cheating,” the study suggests. It should be noted that “women who depended on their male partners for money were half as likely to cheat as women who made the same amount as their male partner.” This is because: “For women, making less money than a male partner is not threatening, it is the status quo. More importantly, economically dependent women may encounter fewer opportunities to cheat, and they may make a calculated decision that cheating just isn’t worth it. If they get caught, their livelihood is at risk.”
According to the study, couples who were least likely to cheat were those where the women earned about 75% of the man’s income.
Take all this with an enormous grain of salt though: the study examined fewer than 3,000 couples, all of whom were under 30. “The relationship between economic dependence and infidelity disappeared when age, education level, income, religious attendance, and relationship satisfaction were taken into account,” said the study author, AND, on top of that: out of all the study participants, only approximately 3.8% of male partners and 1.4% of female partners reported cheating in any given year during the six-year period studied. So, basically, this information, while maybe making you momentarily anxious or angry, is really pretty meaningless. You’re welcome.