Monday, August 7, 2017

Iceland: More Egalitarian and Less Jealous?

While reviewing the slides on the topic of reproduction, I found the information on what males and females rate as important characteristics in relation to long-term mate selection interesting, but I was really surprised that women in the U.S. still consider men with “good financial prospects” to be a more ideal mate (shouldn’t we be past this by now?). When I read this, I immediately thought of recently learning more about Iceland and how egalitarian it is. I did a Google search and learned that in Iceland “67 percent of babies are born to parents who are not married” (Epstein, “in the Land of Independent Mothers, ” see below), which made me wonder, in such an egalitarian society where marriage and maybe monogamy are not as important as here in the U.S., does the financial stability of women influence levels of jealousy and mate poaching in Iceland?
According to Icelander Bryndis Asmundottir, who has three children with two different partners, there seems to be no jealousy present in her current relationship. Women also have much economic freedom in Iceland than in the U.S. See the YouTube clip below:

It seems, at least according to Asmundottir, that jealousy and mate poaching are less of an issue in Iceland where monogamy and marriage are not necessarily the goals within relationships; where there is no stigma attached to having several children with several different partners; and where women have more freedom, meaning financial freedom. But is her experience reflective of the norm in Iceland? I wondered…. I also wondered, just how financially independent are women in Iceland? My second question here was easy to answer: According to the article associated with the above video clip, “Is Marriage Becoming Totally Outdated in Iceland?” (See above link), Iceland “guarantees some of the most generous parental leave in the world: nine months at 80% pay (three months for mom, three for dad and another three to be divvied up). As a result, women are emboldened to start families whether or not their men took Beyonce’s advice to ‘put a ring on it.’” So this financial help from the government definitely gives women more independence and freedom. Also, Iceland ranks number one in the world as far as gender equality in the workplace (they still have a 14% gender pay gap, but they’re still number one in the world), so again, financially, women are doing better than anywhere else in the world. So it seems that women do have more freedom and independence, which seems to lead to less jealousy and mate poaching. (See link below regarding Iceland’s work environment for women in comparison to other countries in the world):

Back to my first question: Is Asmundottir’s experience of little jealousy in her relationship reflective of the norm in Iceland?  I turned to Freydis Freysteinsdottir, Sigurgr Skulason, Caitlyn Flalligan, and David Knox, completed a study titled, “U.S. Icelandic College Students Attitudes Toward Relationship/Sexuality” (College Student Journal, Fall 2014, Vol. 8 Issue 3) for a possible answer. This study included issues of jealousy and cheating among college students and found less cheating among Icelandic students when compared to U.S. students, but also found that this was because Icelandic students were more likely to be in more committed relationships. This confused me a little, but maybe this is because in Iceland there is less pressure to couple, thus when people do couple they take the relationship more seriously? I'm not sure. It's also important to consider that this study only offers a small sampling of the population of Iceland, so I do not have a conclusive answer to this question. But after a little research, it sure seems like the more egalitarian society of Iceland does nurture people to be less jealous and less likely to mate poach.


  1. I believe women in the United States view a partner's financial status as a key factor more because of the cultural shift of the "independent woman". At one time the man was sought to provide financially for the family as the woman was "meant" to stay home and care for the children. Then came a point in time in which having a father present in the home was not as prevalent. The combination of women empowerment which urged women to value their rights more and the idea that a woman can do whatever a man can do and better, led to women no longer putting up with the unfavorable behaviors of their husbands added to a then non exsistent divorce rate. Following those times women then did it all, which was capable, however it seems to have shifted back to the desire to have an equal partnership. If women now can "have it all" and "do it all" the support of a partner may be what is now desired and in order for the support, financially a man must be stable.

  2. Such an amazing post! I loved it.