No, I’m not making this up folks. A recent peer-reviewed study found that men are more likely to cheat if his or her income is significantly lower than their partner’s. The study also found women are also more likely to fool around if they earn more than their husband or male partner. The researchers reported that these findings suggest that disparities in income play a significant role in infidelity and relationships.
“With women, they were less likely to engage in infidelity the less money they make relative to their husband,” said study author Christin Munsch. “But for men, the less money you make relative to your spouse, the more likely you are to engage in infidelity.” Munsch, a graduate student at Cornell University, said she came up with the idea of studying the effects of income on infidelity after hearing from a friend who has cheated on his partner. He told Munsch that “she made all the money, she had all the friends, and he’d moved up there to be with her. He felt completely powerless.” While there’s been previous research into infidelity, it didn’t look into differences in income among couples, Munsch added.
In a national survey that monitored 9,000 individuals, munsch and her team of investigators found that almost seven percent of the men reported cheating on their partner, while three percent of women did as well. Factors having to do with salary and income
increased the risk for infidelity among the study group.
If you’re a woman and “you make more money than your partner, your partner isn’t 100 percent likely to cheat,” she stressed. Still, money appeared to be a significant factor. Men who make less than their wives may lean toward infidelity because they feel a “gender identity threat,” Munsch speculated. “The range of acceptable behaviors for men is a lot narrower” when it comes to dynamics in a relationship, such as those involving finances, she said. “It’s harder to hit that mark because it’s a smaller mark. If you’re not hitting the mark, you might feel threatened.”
On the other end of the spectrum, infidelity seemed to rise when one partner made a lot more money than the other. And that held true whether the man or the woman was the big wage earner. “If you work long hours and have more disposable income, it’s easier to hide infidelity,” Munsch reasoned. For example, unusual expenses charged to credit cards might go unnoticed. Also, she said, people who make more money may also travel frequently and meet lots of people of the opposite sex.
SOURCES: Christin Munsch, graduate student, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.; Aug. 16, 2010, presentation, American Sociological Association, annual meeting, Atlanta