Jorge Casais/

Who You Marry Affects Your Success at Work

Conscientious people are good for their spouse’s work success for a few reasons, say experts.

If you want a promotion or a happier work life, you might do well to examine your choice of a life partner.

Unromantic as the motive may be, people with a conscientious spouse were 11% more likely to get a promotion, and the likelihood that they would have a higher income and higher levels of job satisfaction increased with higher levels of “spousal conscientiousness,” according to a new study out of Washington University in St. Louis.

Researchers analyzed data that 2,272 couples in Australia provided over five years, as part of the country’s national household income and labor dynamics survey. On the 2005 survey, the respondents answered questions about their personalities, and their job success was tracked over the next five years.

What makes a “conscientious” partner, you ask? He or she can embody a range of qualities, including being organized, efficient, goal-oriented, persistent, or punctual, says lead author Brittany Solomon.

Conscientious people are good for their spouse’s work success for a few reasons, she tells Quartz. For example, in the same way that you may outsource a job at work, a wife who works may feel that she can outsource certain household or personal responsibilities to her husband, or vice versa (this survey only looked at straight couples) and feel confident that the work will get done. Conscientious people also have traits that rub off on their partners, prompting them to practice similar habits at work.

Men and women don’t help each other out equally, though, Solomon says. Of the couples studied, 1,030 were single-income households. Two-thirds of the earners in those situations were men, and the effect of conscientiousness was stronger than it was when the wife was the single earner.

(Image via Jorge Casais/