Cheating wives are closing the infidelity gap, with the number of women who admit to having extramarital affairs rising 40 percent in 20 years — and hitting 14.7 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, the number of cheating men who admit to having affairs has remained steady at around 21 percent over the same period of time.
The core data comes from the 40-plus year old National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey data base, which says that it has tracked the opinions and behavior of Americans since 1972.
The trend itself was first spotted in the data by a sociologist at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama’s Center for Demographic Research.
While men are still more likely to cheat, the direction of the trend is clear. “The gender gap is closing,” said Yanyi Djamba, director of the AUM Center that compiled the data from the GSS surveys.
According to an indepth Bloomberg report on the cheating wives study, some experts feel that women’s growing economic independence is one of the reasons behind the rise in infidelity. Women with less to lose financially may be less inclined to repress a desire to play around.
University of Washington sociologist and “The Naked Truth” columnist Pepper Schwartz told Bloomberg that successful women “can afford the potential consequences of an affair, with higher incomes and more job prospects.”
A look at the AUM charts suggested that she’s probably onto something. The record high number of cheating wives was reported in 2006 — with over 17 percent of wives admitting to the extramarital affairs. That number crashed in the aftermath of the 2007 economic crisis.
And it’s well-known that powerful men have always been more likely to cheat. The difference can be huge.
In a MSNBC/iVillage survey of 70,000 adults, an eye-popping 32 percent of men earning more than $300,000 a year said that they cheated — compared to the 21 percent of men earning less than $35,000 a year.
In that study, the researchers didn’t notice a difference in income between women who cheated and women who didn’t.
But the slowly rising trend of cheating wives and the closing infidelity gap seen in the new study suggests that they missed something.
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