Outwitting Divorce: How Intelligence Can Keep Couples Together

Paul C. Holley, Arizona State University
Scott T. Yabiku, Arizona State University
Mary H. Benin, Arizona State University

Intelligence has long been a topic of interest to social scientists but research using intelligence as a predictor of behavior usually focuses on domains such as crime and delinquency, academic achievement, and socioeconomic status. In this paper, we address this gap and develop a theoretical framework to hypothesize why intelligence may be related to an important family behavior: divorce. We propose three mechanisms that could potentially explain the relationship between intelligence and divorce: a spuriousness hypothesis involving parental background factors, a structural hypothesis related to socioeconomic status and marital behavior, and a direct hypothesis describing the unique effect of intelligence on the divorce rate. To test these hypotheses, we use data from the Intergenerational Panel Study of Mothers and Children, a 31-year, 7-wave panel study of 670 mothers and their children. Results provide limited support for structural hypothesis, which lends stronger support for a direct relationship between intelligence and divorce.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Union Formation and Dissolution and Parents' Living Arrangements