What's the likelihood your spouse will cheat on you? University of Connecticut professor Christin Munsch attempts to answer that question through an economic lens in a study published today in American Sociological Review. Munsch looks at how likely it is a breadwinner will cheat—as well as how likely it is an economically dependent spouse will do the same. Her "counterintuitive" finding, per the Guardian: Men and women who are economically dependent on their partner are more likely to cheat, with men three times more inclined to do so. For women: Those who are totally economically dependent have a 5.2% probability of cheating, compared to 3.4% for those who brought home equal income and just 1.5% for total breadwinners. For completely financially dependent men, the probability of cheating was much higher: 15%. As for how common that scenario may be, CNN points to a Pew Research Center report that found that 15% of married mothers outearned their husbands in 2011.
Men were actually least likely to cheat (2.9%) when they brought home 70% of the couple's pooled income. Infidelity increases from there, with men who are the sole breadwinners having a 4% chance of cheating. "These men are aware that their wives are truly dependent and may think that, as a result, their wives will not leave them even if they cheat," Munsch tells the Wall Street Journal. She arrived at her conclusions by crunching data of 2,757 straight people in the same relationship for at least a year as gathered by the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth between 2001 and 2011. As the survey's name suggests, those considered were young: between the ages of 18 and 32. What Munsch thinks her findings indicate: "We don't really like inequity, and there's probably something about masculinity that means men really don't like it." (Why people discover an affair ... and stay.)