March 1, 2016

Do Credit Scores Predict Lasting Relationships?

The ways people use credit scores continue to grow.  Not only are they used in loan applications, but they can be involved in a number of other transactions such as employment checks, cell phone contracts, and rental housing applications.  All of this led a group of researchers with the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C. to wonder how credit scores might impact personal relationships.
Using a large data set and a number of statistical methods, the authors found a “large and significant role for credit scores in the formation and dissolution of committed relationships,” such as marriages and cohabitation.  Among other things, the authors found:
  1. a positive correlation between credit scores and forming a committed relationship and its continued stability, 
  2. people sort themselves into committed relationships according to their credit scores, and
  3. the “initial match quality in credit scores is highly predictive of subsequent separations.”
The authors suggest that credit scores may reveal information beyond a person’s creditworthiness, such as his or her general trustworthiness and commitment to obligations beyond financial debts.  They say their results “support the significance of trustworthiness in partners’ ability to form and maintain committed relationships.”

While other studies have looked at how people sort themselves into relationships based on a number of other factors, the authors state that their study is the first to systematically look at credit scores as a socioeconomic characteristic in relationships. 

Click here to read the full study, Credit Scores and Committed Relationships, August 2015.