You could call it enlightened self-interest: I had just proposed to my long-term girlfriend and, as the Financial Times’s economics reporter, was intending to take the same rigorous, data-driven approach to matrimonial bliss that I use to write about British productivity.  The idea originally came from a book. In The Second Shift, first published in 1989, the US sociologist Arlie Hochschild focused on a particular problem facing modern couples. The emergence of the two-job family in the final decades of the 20th century had not been accompanied by similar changes outside the workplace. This left many working women in effect working a double shift — one at the office, and one, unpaid, at home.  Through interviews and close observation of families, Hochschild saw that these arrangements were leading to unhappiness. Stressed and overworked women were resentful of partners who failed to do their fair share at home; in turn, clueless men wondered why their wives were no longer as affecti...

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