The Social and Cultural Predictors of Generosity in Marriage: Gender Egalitarianism, Religiosity, and Familism


family processes, culture, communication, household labor, religion


This study focuses on the social and cultural sources of an important dimension of solidarity in contemporary marriages: marital generosity. Marital generosity is defined here as freely giving to one’s spouse by regularly engaging in small acts of service, forgiving one’s spouse, and displaying high levels of affection and respect. Using recent data from a national sample, the Survey of Marital Generosity (N = 1,368 couples), we explored the associations between gender egalitarianism, familism, religiosity, and generous behavior among spouses aged 18 to 45. Our results suggest that domestic gender egalitarianism—where spouses reported sharing housework and child care—is linked to greater reports of marital generosity. Religiosity is also positively associated with marital generosity. Finally, the most potent predictor of generosity in this study is commitment, where spouses are personally dedicated to their partner and to continuing the relationship.

Original Publication Citation

Wilcox, W. B. & Dew, J. P. (2016). The social and cultural predictors of generosity in marriage: Gender egalitarianism, religiosity, and familism. Journal of Family Issues, 37, 97–118.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Family Issues




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor