More social freedom but higher psychological dependance

Ruut Veenhoven, Erasmus university Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Paper prepared for 1st World Conference on Women, Mexico 1975

It is a common idea that modernisation has freed people from the trammels of traditional marriage; that modern marriage is more free. Surprisingly however, we see an increasing effect of marriage on people's personal well being. Survey studies in the USA and the Netherlands show a growing association between general happiness and marital satisfaction in the last twenty years. These findings are discussed in the context of the modernisation of Western society during the last few centuries. It is suggested that in the process of modernisation, marriage came to carry an increasingly heavy load of social and emotional functions, which made it both more important and more problematic for the individuals and that this development resulted in a greater psychological dependence on ones spouse.

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