Banner Archive

Marvel Comics Timeline
Godzilla Timeline



« So There Should Be an Equal Percentage of Vegan Options | Main | Were they ever *in* step? »

Why So Threatened, Bro?

I wish they hadn't chosen a pic of Britney Spears and her ex(?)-husband for this article. Makes me feel like i'm reading celebrity gossip.

[emphasis mine]

In 2013, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business published a paper that looked at 4,000 U.S. married couples who responded to the National Survey of Families and Households. It found that when the wife was the higher earner, the chances that the couple would report being in a "happy" marriage fell by 6 percentage points. Couples in which the wife earned more were also 6 percentage points more likely to have discussed separating in the past year.

Trying to understand the causal link between female breadwinners and divorce, the authors looked at housework and child care. On average, women do more than men (that's well known), but the researchers found that the housework gap got even larger when the woman was the primary earner. They think this finding, which is based on eight years' worth data from the American Time Use Survey, "suggests that a 'threatening' wife takes on a greater share of housework so as to assuage the husband's unease with the situation." Ultimately though, that "second shift" becomes too tiring for the woman and places additional strain on the marriage.

There are other ways in which an income gap can lead to marital stress. Christin Munsch, then a doctoral candidate at Cornell University, analyzed data on 18- to 28-year-old couples (some were married and some were cohabiting) from the U.S. National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. She found that the more that a man is financially dependent on his female partner, the more likely he is to cheat on her. Men who are entirely dependent on their girlfriends or wives are five times more likely to cheat than men who earn the same amount as their partners. In contrast though, the more financially dependent a woman is on her male partner, the less likely she is to cheat. The trend was clear, despite that the overall numbers were low -- 3.8 percent of men and 1.4 percent of women admitted to cheating on their partners in a given year between 2002 and 2007.

Women reading this may wonder whether the only men suitable for marriage are those who earn a lot more. But the research from Cornell found that men who made significantly more than their female partners were also more likely to cheat.

I would have liked to see it broken down by couples who had kids and those who didn't and compare those happiness numbers. Are couples without children as likely to be unhappy when the wife is the higher earner than those with?

One hopes that at some point, some study will come up with a better causal analysis so that we can't comfortably fall back on "men suck". I'm more inclined to think "people suck at communicating expectations" is the cause of most relationship ills.

Sadly, according to these numbers, only 29% of women earn more than their husbands. I guess i should be happy that at least it's trending up. I don't think it can ever reach 50% because babies. Even with paternity leave and fathers being more than willing to put in their fair share of the work, unless parents choose to formula-feed, moms are kinda chained to that infant for the first couple of months, at a minimum, and that has to impact a woman's career, especially if there's more than one child. Unless society moves to a Walden Two Skinner-esque model, that is (why aren't you putting your baby in a Skinner crib??? why???).

By min | February 11, 2015, 1:09 PM | Liberal Outrage & Science