Female Breadwinners Are on the Rise

By: Krystal Etienne · April 14, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Equivalent Earnings

According to new data from the Pew Research Center, women in 45% of today’s opposite-sex marriages earn just as much or more than their husbands. This is a big shift from 50 years ago when men were the sole breadwinners in 85% of same-sex households.

The change isn’t so much from one gender to the other as breadwinner but more couples earning the same. More than half of married couples in this latest research report the husband as the primary income earner, while just 16% of these households consider the wife the breadwinner and 29% say it’s an even split.

Is There an Ideal Breakdown?

When it came to what Americans think women and men want, there were some differences. Pew Research analysis shows nearly half of respondents said most men prefer to earn more than their wives and only 3% said most men would want a woman to outearn them. While only 22% of those surveyed said they believe most women want a man to outearn them and 7% said most women want to outearn their husbands.

Regardless of what the public thinks men and women want, the research shows the number of women earning more than their husbands has more than tripled from 5% to 16% since 1972. Alternatively, the number of husbands holding sole breadwinner status (where the wife reports no earnings) has dropped from 49% to 23%.

The End Result

Research shows that despite the increase of a woman’s earnings, she still maintains the majority of household and caregiving responsibilities. On average, women spend 4.5 hours more on caregiving and household chores than their husbands, who in turn find 3.5 more hours of leisure activities per day than their wives.

Overall, Pew found that families with dual earners had the highest income. And, as recent studies have also shown, sometimes money can indeed buy happiness.

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