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The Daily

Study: Good Credit Makes Good Marriages

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Oct 8, 2015
BrokenHeartThe Beatles long ago asserted that money can't buy you love, but a recent paper from the U.S. Federal Reserve Board suggests that, perhaps, good credit can help you keep it. The paper makes the claim that, much like how couples tend to be around the same level of attractiveness, they also tend to have similar credit scores. Since money issues tend to be the most common reason for couples to argue, it stands to reason, according to the paper, that if both partners have good credit, they will have fewer money problems, and so have fewer arguments, and will thus be more likely to stay together than, say, couples where both partners are faced with frequent financial issues. 

To come to this conclusion, researchers combed through data from the New York Federal Reserve's Consumer Credit Panel, with the primary sample containing about 12 million consumers in a typical quarter. The study looked at couples over the source of 62 quarters, ending in the second quarter of 2014. In addition, the study also followed consumers who live at the same address as consumers from the primary sample, which came to about 30 million additional people. Within this sample, the researchers looked at things like loan balances, delinquency status of various types of debt, bankruptcy, foreclosure and "other derogatory flags" as well as the number of inquiries made on one's credit history. In addition, the data also included Equifax risk scores for each consumer, which is designed to predict how likely a person is to have a severe delinquency over the next two years, as well as the consumer's state and country of residence, census tract and census block. 

Because the researchers could not identify people who were explicitly in relationships, noting that living at the same address does not mean they're together, they narrowed the sample down by keeping only pairs who were the only two people living at an address, were between 20 and 55 years old with 12 years or fewer age difference between them, who had not been living together for at least eight quarters prior (indicating that they had gotten together) and had continued to live together for longer than a year (roommates, said the researchers, who tend to change out after a year). 

All these restrictions left them with a sample of 49,363 couples. 

So what did they find?

Essentially, that relationships where both partners have good credit are more likely to ensure than relationships where either both partners have bad credit, or one partner has much better credit than the other mainly because the couples with good credit are less likely to experience financial stress, which can be a major factor in breakups.