Extramarital affairs, some factors...

Posted on Oct 23, 2016

I. Introduction

According to the 2012 US infidelity survey, 27.2% of Men and 22.9% of Women had at least once an extramarital affair. Several statistical studies have been conducted to understand the causes that led married people to have an affair. In this work, we will look at the some of the factors that might influence the likelihood of some individuals to engage in an extramarital affair.

II. The Data

In order to determine some of the possible factors of extramarital affairs, we will explore a well known survey from the paper “Theory of extramarital affairs”  published in the Journal of political economy in 1978. This survey has a sample of 601 individuals and measures 9 factors like: Having children, how the individuals rate their marriage, how many years they have been married and how educated they are, etc..

III. The participants

Although the number of participant is 601, 450 individuals in this survey didn’t have an an affair.

For practical purposes, we will only focus on individuals who had at least one affair during their married life.

IV. Exploring the factors

In this part, we will explore some of the plausible factors of extramarital affairs. For all factors, an overview of the behavior of both male and female participant will be shown.

    1. The Spouse



Fig.1 : Marriage rating vs Gender


The individuals who answer the survey, were asked to rate their marriage with a scale from 1 (Bad) to 5(excellent). From Fig.1 above, we can see that the average rate for female participants is 3 and the average rate for male participants is 4. We can also say that, for this survey the individuals appear to be quite happy with their spouses. In this case, how do children influence the quality of their marriage and the number of affairs they could have?

    2. The Children


Fig.2 : Marriage rating vs Children for both genders

From Fig.2, we can see that individuals without children seem to be more happy with their spouses than the ones without children for both males and females.

If we look at Fig.3, we can see that the people without children are more likely to have more affairs than the people with children. In addition, the number of affairs for male participants with children are almost twice their female counterparts with children.


Fig.3 : Number of affairs and children for both genders

After examining both the children and marriage rating factors, we will next explore some other factors as years of marriage, age and education.

3. The years of marriage



Fig.4 : Number of affairs and years of marriage for both genders

From Fig.4, female participants seem they don’t have affairs during the first year of marriage. Between 1 to 5 years of marriage they have more affairs than their male counterparts and we can see that between 5 to 10 years of marriage they have the same number of affairs.  For more than 10 years of marriage, female participants have more affairs than their male counterparts.  

  • What about middle life crisis?

It is quite common to blame what we call "middle life crisis" as a major factor for extramarital affairs. It is believed that for both genders there is an age range where an individual is more likely to have at least one extramarital affair.

In Fig.5, we represent different age groups and the number of affairs for both genders.


Fig.5 : Number of affairs and Age for both genders

From Fig.5,  the middle life crisis for male participants seems to appear to be around 41-47 years old and for female participants it is around 26-32 years old, where for both gender the number of affairs attains a maximum of 12.

    4- Education

The last factor we are going to explore in this work is Education. For example, how do advanced degrees of education and the number of affairs tie up?


Fig.6 : Number of affairs and Education for both genders

From Fig.6, we can see that the more advanced a degree someone has, the more likely that individual is to have more affairs.

V. Conclusion

Although survey are often biased, it is sometimes quite difficult to draw a clear conclusion of the analysis of the data. This work shows that there is no significant factor that could clearly explain extramarital affairs for both genders.

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