Bicker index

Chart: A ranking of European countries by how much couples argue over household chores

July 23, 2014
July 23, 2014

Marital bickering is not just for married couples. If you’re an unmarried cohabiting couple in Europe, you’re actually more likely to argue about whose turn it is to clean the toilet than a married couple would, according to a new report. But you may be less likely to argue over paying the gas bill than a wedlocked duo.

The report, published in the journal Demographic Research, surveyed cohabiting and married heterosexual couples in 22 European countries and determined how much they each argue about specific issues. Couples living together are more likely to argue over housework than married couples, while married couples were more likely to disagree over paid work and money, the researchers found.

The report also exposed differences in the overall rate of couples arguing from country to country. Couples in Greece, for example, are living the good life; they’re the least likely to squabble about household work divisions, paid work and money. Norway and Finland are home to the most bickering couples, with Finnish couples disagreeing the most in all three categories. Nine out of 10 of Finnish couples said they argue over housework.

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Marital status was far from the only factor determining the likelihood of a spat. Generally, couples with higher incomes were less likely to argue over household chores, but were more likely to disagree about paid work, likely because of their longer work hours, according to the researchers. Similarly, if both couples have a paid job, they’re more likely to argue over chores at home. A child in the picture increases the likelihood of couples arguing over both housework and paid work, the researchers found.

One can’t draw from this study the conclusion that unmarried cohabiters fight more than married couples, since the level of disagreement varies depending on what the issue is, and varies from country to country. But perhaps it’s worth noting that couples in countries with lower rates of cohabitation, such as Greece and Portugal, seem to argue less in general.

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