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Women Make More Money

Jane Austen famously penned, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." This so-called universal truth continues to have deep roots today, even as the face of the American household takes on new character. Author Hanna Rosin recently took on some modern marital contradictions in her book, "The End of Men: And the Rise of Women." One situation she studied involved a flip in traditional domestic roles. How are households faring in two-sex marriages when the woman is the primary breadwinner?

Education a Game Changer

According to Rosin, something in the neighborhood of 40 percent of wives earn more money than their husbands do, and the trend has momentum. This is true not only in the United States, but in France, Israel, Brazil, Colombia all over the world, except in Africa. The trend may be closely related to education, as women are outpacing men in number of college degrees earned across the globe. Rosin wanted to know what this meant, if anything, for families. She conducted a survey through Slate magazine of about 7,500 people, and later interviewed a portion of the responders.

Money and Power at Home

One of Rosin's central questions regarded power. Did women gain greater authority in the home when they made more money? The vast majority of people polled felt that the answer was no, that wives and husbands shared power equally within their marriage. According to Rosin, 80 percent of people in this situation described their marriages as happy and felt the risk of divorce to be low. However, this optimism did not necessarily mean there were no tensions in the marriage. While almost 90 percent believed that a marriage in which women earned the lion's share of the income would be unremarkable in the near future, a segment of women reported that their husbands were self-conscious about the arrangement.

Taking on More

Some women reported that as single women, their higher incomes made them more desirable as potential marriage partners to many men. It does not mean, however, that men were willing to flip traditional roles and assume more domestic responsibility. Rosin speculates, as well, on whether part of the disparity in the division of labor at home might have to do with women being unwilling to let go of more domestic responsibility. The most recent American Time Use survey states that women put in an average of 23.2 hours of paid labor each week, with 13.9 hours of child care. Rosin compares those numbers to 1965, when women reportedly worked 9.3 paid hours per week and put in 10.2 hours toward child care. Rosin writes that the current trend may demonstrate something less than a balance of life/work responsibilities and more of an overload.

Global Shift

As stated, households in which women are making as much or more money than men are not limited to the United States. Demographer Albert Esteve Palós gives Spain as an example of a country in which men and women are divided in the face of change. He notes that more Spanish women are marrying men from other European countries such as Belgium or Switzerland, while a percentage of Spanish men are seeking more old-fashioned unions with women from Ecuador and Colombia. Twenty percent of marriages in Spain are now between a native Spaniard and a foreigner. Esteve Palós said, "The Spanish men are looking for a woman from the past, while the women are looking for men of the future."

It Takes Two

The controversy about Rosin's work superficially centers on men being somehow disparaged or weakened by an increase of agency for women. The survey indicates a situation that looks more like growing pains. Overall, men are supportive of their wives' success and willing to do their part at home. Women are happy in their work, but can feel overburdened by both job and home responsibilities. A perfect balance has yet to be struck, but the scales are most definitely swinging.

Category: Get Ordained

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