Co-author Confusion

When your co-author is your colleague and also your significant other, confusion often follows. Take this recent post by Arnold Kling on the causes of inequality, where he says:

I think that Betsey Stevenson/Justin Wolfers marriages are another big factor. That is, when highly educated men start looking for wives who are stimulating companions as opposed to kitchen-floor moppers, this reduces cross-class marriages and thereby raises inequality.

I’m flattered by the cite. I think. And so is Betsey (she thinks). But we’re not sure how flattered to be.

Which Betsey Stevenson was Arnold referring to?

Most likely, he’s referring to my co-author Betsey Stevenson, and this is a reference to the Stevenson-Wolfers theory describing the new era of hedonic marriage. More entertainingly, perhaps he’s referring to my significant other, Betsey Stevenson. She’s no “kitchen-floor mopper,” and so he is describing the rise of relationships like ours — relationships between intellectual equals.

Or finally, he could be referring to my marriage to Betsey Stevenson. That is, he’s referring to non-marriages. Betsey and I have learned that couples can form healthy unions without the default contract offered through formal marriage.

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  1. Em - says:

    I don’t know whether to laugh with Kling or at him. Now intellectual precludes cleaning, which doesn’t explain why my less intellectual husband doesn’t clean. Another laugh at th wit who suggests the choice is between beauty and intellect. (Sigh.) My 21 year’s old hetrosexual son’s best friend is a lesbian. They’re are talking about living together because they’re compatible… I think the point is – what is the point, anyway? Oh yes: Inequality and cross class marriage. What?

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  2. observer says:

    you americans are funny; how innovative you find the idea of couples forming life-long unions, or even just – heavens! – living together, without the default formal contract!

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  3. Richard Klibaner says:

    The major advantage of getting married is that you no longer have to use phrases like “significant other.”

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  4. not confused at all says:

    sorry-one more almost forgotten point- the choice is clear that the real truth lies somewhere in between the two extremes.

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  5. Kat says:

    That’s a very interesting ambiguity!

    Besides that, what stood out to me the most is the assumption that it’s the men looking for the different woman that’s causing this structure of relationships. I would attribute it to the changes in women’s education and career paths over the past few decades.

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  6. Allen Reynolds says:

    Mr. Wolfers,
    Sounds like you’re the one who’s confused.

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  7. DrNova says:

    “Free at last!”

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  8. Tyler says:

    My wife and I are both equally educated, albeit in radically different fields. Is that why I have to do the mopping?

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