Friday, March 26, 2010

New Math Does Not Compute

Kathy found this article about a study that looked at 1,074 couples aged between 19 and 75 years, to find which social factors were most important to a long and happy relationship. Here's the abstract:

Research shows that the success of marriages and other intimate partnerships depends on objective attributes such as differences in age, cultural background, and educational level. This article proposes a mathematical approach to optimizing marriage by allocating spouses in such a way as to reduce the likelihood of divorce or separation. To produce our optimization model, we use the assumption of a central “agency” that would coordinate the matching of couples. Based on a representative and longitudinal sample of 1074 cohabiting and married couples living in Switzerland, we estimate various objective functions corresponding to age, education, ethnicity, and prior divorce concerning every possible combination of men and women. Our results show that the current state of marriages or partnerships is well below the social optimum. We reallocate approximately 68% of individuals (7 out of 10) to a new couple that we posit has a higher likelihood of survival. From this selection of new partners, we obtain our final “optimal” solutions, with a 21% reduction in the objective function.

And here are the recommendations they came up with:

* The husband should be 5 years older to the wife.
* Husband and wife should be of the same heritage.
* Wife should be 27% more intelligent than the husband.
* Wife should hold a degree while he shouldn't.
* Don't marry a divorcee.

Let the record show that, although it's Kathy's contention that we are four for five, I can assure you we are actually three for five on this one. I am five years older, we are of similar heritage and neither of us was a divorcee. We both have college degrees.

And she's about...oh...ballpark figure...roughly 2.9618447% more intelligent than I am. She may claim more but that's because she has a difficult time keeping track of where the decimal point goes. Otherwise she'd get an even 3%.


Lucas said...

That's funny. My wife and I hit three out of five. I am 5 years older, we are of the same heritage (roughly), she is easily 27% smarter than I am (which doesn't explain why she married me). However, we both have degrees (but she is in grad school - so maybe that is a wash?) and I am a divorcee. We are approaching our tenth wedding anniversary this summer, so I guess we will see how it goes.

Sherry said...

I missed this earlier, but wanted to weigh in. I am way more than 5 years older than hubby. We are of similar heritage. We both have degrees--he also has an advanced degree. He is smarter on M-W-F; I get to be smarter on T-Th-S; Sunday we give to God. I am/was divorced. We are closing in on 16th anniversary. Statistically, we are 1 for 5?