Monday, March 24, 2008

Marriage and the City

Carrie Bradshaw once said that “Some people are settling down, some people are settling, and some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies."

Somehow the quote comes to my mind when I was reading an article in the Economist on Japan economy which said:

"Under the traditional (Japan) system, companies hired graduates and then invested heavily in their training and development. To keep workers loyal and protect their investment, they offered lifetime employment on steadily increasing pay, with generous fringe benefits and a lump sum on retirement."

Replace hired with marriage, companies/graduates with women/men and it could transform you to an episode to Sex in the City (by the way, the movie will be release soon)

In earlier (and better?) time, the women can focus on gaining skill on household chores and raising kid since they know the marriage is likely to last until death. The men would focuses on income generating skill. Division of labor works those days. But now marriage is not necessarily for life and people know it. What would be the rational response?

The Logic of Life (LIF) by Tim Hartford in the page 91-92 said that,

"The more people divorced, the more divorcees – that is, potential marriage partners – you could meet. …Because divorce was conceivable, women preserved career options. But because women had career options divorce became conceivable."

An interesting part of independence is that you depend less on other, and other less on you. Education and career bring all the above to both women and men. But it brings the credible threat (in game theory lexicon) that one can bail out of marriage in less hesitation than in earlier time. Maybe men refusing to marry up has rational reason (beside pride) after all since the outside option would greater as well for the woman.

LIF concludes on page 95 that,

'In the long run, the rational response is not for the couple to marry early and marry often; it is to divorce less and marry less… romantic couples are moving from boom and bust of marriage and divorce to a more stable arrangement where marriages are delayed… We know there exist something called an optimal divorce rate, and we’re 100 percent sure it isn’t zero”

I think Carrie Bradshaw would agree with that.


Sushi-Hunt said...

yeah, if carrie bradshaw could understand what you were explaining, she would agree hahaha..

beeerlyyyy sumpeeeeeh, elo serius amataaaaan

Anymatters said...

2-income family gets more happiness though...

dswastiana said...

mmm the optimal divorce rate? interesting... would it be relevant applying that concept in indonesia? since there is a significant influence of "adat ketimuran"..
tapi iya.. Berly seriusss banget... untung game theory nya ga dibahas panjang disini.. :-)

Berly said...

As long as Carrie Bradshaw's action could be explain by theory and she acts as if she understand it...

Maybe... depend on the trade off between money and time spent together for a couple. But that's for another post.

Zero divorce mean people stay in marriage no matter how bad it is. And there is always probability of mismatch and bad behavior. Too much of "adat ketimuran" may not be good for the couple's happiness.
Too high divorced rate means inefficiency in spousal search and selection... Economists are moderate people, we look for something in the middle.

Well, I do take marriage seriously :-)

Anymatters said...

you're right!
that's why couple will have to stay together until retirement so that they can enjoy all their money together for the rest of their life.
i'll wait for the posting, berly.

winda said...

i couldn't agree with you more Sar... (,")

Yeah ber, last time we met, elo masih seriusan aja hahaha... anyway nice to hear from you again...

Berly said...

Hey, I am thinking of Carrie Bradshaw quote while reading the Economist.

How much less serious you girls want me to be? :-D

colson said...

O, that's why we are still married.

Quite relieved you came up with this explanation. Not being a very romantic guy I've frequently wondered why we didn't split up. But here it is: sheer rationality made my wife and I stay together. By intuition so to say.

Berly said...

Glad the article serve you well Colson. Maybe economist's cold logic is not a subtitute to hot romance but its complement :-)

Could you be more specific which part that convince you? Would appreciate further insight for future blog post

suryo said...

Who is this Carrie B :)
When you see marriage through unmarried person like Carrie, you'll likely see independence issue as the main problem causing divorce of a marriage.

When people get married they are agree for a commitment, then I believe divorce happens as a peak of expectation failure that accumulates in time, from at least one of the party involved in marriage.

In which independence are only one of many variables.

fajar said...

salam kenal