Infidelity Is Costing America $61.6 Billion Annually
New research from the producers of Cheaters® and Bobby Goldstein Productions has found that infidelity costs the nation $61.6 billion dollars annually.
When a spouse or cohabiting partner commits infidelity, it’s not just upsetting to his or her spouse and family—it’s also bad news for Uncle Sam and their next-door neighbors. Society, as a whole, suffers due to lost productivity associated with the behavior and depression due to infidelity. The national economic impact of infidelity is leading to a $61.6 billion decrease in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per year, according to a study conducted by the television show Cheaters®.
The estimated cumulative output loss caused by infidelity represents 0.4% of annual GDP this year alone. Over the next 20 years, that number is expected to be in the upwards of $1.23 trillion dollars. Cheating spouses are costing each and every living American $200 every year, year after year. Infidelity, like health care and poverty, has an economic impact on our nation that is a very real yet understudied hindrance to our success as a nation.
It has been estimated that nearly a quarter of all Americans has or will engage in infidelity at some point during their lifespan. Infidelity is the most highly cited marital problem leading to divorce. It is estimated that 50% of divorces are due to spousal infidelity. For the individuals directly affected by infidelity, the study found that the direct financial costs of infidelity result in broken homes, less earning power than a nuclear family unit, and higher levels of poverty. Also accompanying infidelity were higher medical costs associated with depression, other mental health issues and STDs. In addition, large amounts of personal spending are dedicated toward paying for the act and ramifications of infidelity. This spending would otherwise be injected into the larger economy.
Infidelity is most likely among couples in longer marriages, less religious couples, more highly educated couples, and couples including individuals who have previously been divorced. David Buss states that, “from an evolutionary psychological perspective, infidelity signals the diversion of important reproductive resources.” Among married couples, the risk of relationship dissolution is greatest when a spouse is both sexually and emotionally involved with an outside partner.
In addition, men are more likely to have sexual affairs than women while women are more likely to have emotional affairs. Among younger women and men, the likelihood of infidelity is the same for both genders. Among older cohorts, men were previously more accepted in society when cheating. However, the knowledge economy has created a movement in which women are becoming increasingly more educated and putting the genders on more equal footing financially. Thus, this trend is making women just as likely to cheat as men in the current generation.
The most important variable for predicting infidelity is income. It is easier for more affluent individuals to hide the costs of entertainment and accommodations. Income could be a proxy for other measures, such as higher status, travel, and interaction with others in the professional world. There is a significant increase in infidelity with employment and financial resources. The relationship between infidelity and income was the most interesting conclusion from the Cheaters® study. People with graduate degrees are 1.75 times more likely than those with high school degrees to engage in extramarital sex. Less extramarital sex existed when neither partner was employed.
It is clear from both an empirical approach and cost-benefit analysis approach, that infidelity has an extremely negative impact on GDP. The relevance of research on infidelity and its ramifications on our society and economy is only becoming more prominent. This study brings to the forefront, many issues that require further research. During the last presidential election, the American public was most concerned with the issue of providing for a family during an era of low job security. Recently, months of arguments among policymakers over how to manage our nation’s debt crisis has only increased stress and worry over economic stability. During times of such economic crisis, social welfare programs such as Medicaid, SNAP, EBT, and many more risk being eliminated at a time when the need for these programs is increasing.
With this new research, it has become evident that infidelity is a factor that heavily impacts the economy. It is an important issue that needs more attention from United States policymakers. Further research would be needed to determine whether infidelity increases during periods of economic crisis, leading to increased government spending and the lowering of GDP.
Results from this study can be incorporated into a larger set of findings in the marital area to help couples consider how to create relationships less vulnerable to infidelity. Even social programs that result in very small decreases in government spending could save taxpayers a great deal of money. Researchers state that there are many implications from the Cheaters® study that could help public policymakers to intervene and prevent infidelity.