NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New Phenomenon: Wives Who Earn More Than Husbands

February 29, 2000

One in three working wives nationwide bring home bigger paychecks than their husbands. Economists say this is a growing financial role for women.

  • In 1980, fewer than one in five working wives out-earned their partners.
  • The trend is particularly pronounced among the most highly educated women -- nearly half of whom have incomes higher than their spouses.
  • By 1998, some 10.5 million working women earned more than their spouses.
  • Economists cite as reasons for the trend the higher numbers of women graduating from U.S. colleges and universities, their increasing tendency to work full-time, and their joining an array of occupations that were male dominated until a generation ago.

Experts say that since the 1980s, husbands have been doing more housework. Among couples with full-time jobs and no children, wives devote an average of about five more hours a week to chores than their husbands do.

Source: Amy Goldstein, "Breadwinner Wives Earn Equality a New Way," Washington Post, February 27, 2000.


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