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Relationship satisfaction and the role of bargaining power and pooling of money in older couples in Sweden

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This study asks whether relative resources (work/retirement) and attached bargaining power, are associated with relationship satisfaction among older couples and whether degree of pooling money is a moderating factor. Spending decisions in a couple are likely more influenced by the partner with the greatest bargaining power, which may lead to different levels of relationship satisfaction. However, meaning of relative resources is likely dependent on how partners organize resources, which in turn may shape relationship evaluation. For couples who pool all money, it should matter less who brings in the money. The study uses nationally representative Swedish GGS 2012–2013 and a subsample of older coresident respondents (n = 1737). The analysis approach is logistic regression where the outcome is whether the respondents are completely or not completely satisfied with relationship. Contradicting relative resource theory, but partly supporting doing gender theory, results show that working respondents with a working partner, are least often satisfied with the relationship. Respondents in couples with a working woman and a retired man, are also satisfied less often, but the association disappears when adjusting for degree of pooling. Relative resources are not central for all couples, except couples where both partners work. Degree of pooling helps to understand older couples’ relationship satisfaction but does not moderate the association between relative resources and relationship satisfaction except among retired couples. Future research should acknowledge degree of pooling as a central dimension in studies on couple dynamics and outcomes among older couples.


the Kamprad Family Foundation, grant 20180307




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Relationship satisfaction and the role of bargaining power and pooling of money in older couples in Sweden

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310 Sociologiska institutionen | Department of Sociology