Household Finance Issues and Marital Instability


financial strain, marriage, marital stability


A growing body of literature examines the role that different types of financial strain play within a marriage. Few of these studies, however, use rigorous empirical techniques to control for the joint relationship between financial strain and marital instability. Fewer, yet, provide a theoretical framework from which to test the empirical hypotheses. A special session was held at the 2006 conference of the American Council on Consumer Interests to highlight some of the latest research studies that examine the link between financial strain and marital instability. Four papers were presented during the session. The first three papers provided examples of recent empirical and theoretical techniques being used to increase the rigor of research in this area. The final presentation discussed competing theories that could be used to explain the financial management behavior of married couples.

The research presentations set the stage for an open discussion at the end of the session that focused on the theoretical and empirical challenges facing researchers in this area, and the direction that future research needs to take with respect to modeling the interactions between financial strain and marital instability. Better theoretical models need to be developed to empirically test the relationship and direction of causality between marital status and financial strain using longitudinal and cross-country data. Below is a brief summary of each paper and some of the highlights from the discussion that followed.

Original Publication Citation

Lyons, A. C., Chang, Y., Dew, J., & Neelakantan, U. (2006). Household Finance Issues and Marital Instability. Consumer Interests Annual, 52.

Document Type


Publication Date



Consumer Interests Annual




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor