NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

More Wives Are Earning More Than Their Husbands

September 7, 1998

As women play catchup in pay rates, many are bringing home more money than their husbands, according to economist Anne E. Winkler of the University of Missouri at St. Louis. Actually, the gap between male and female earnings in many marriages is relatively small.

  • Since 1966, the percentage of wives in the labor force has risen from 35 percent to 62 percent -- and 75 percent if only those under 65 are counted.
  • Dual-income couples last year hit 30.5 million -- far more than the 11.4 million marriages in which only the husband worked.
  • The proportion of dual-income couples in which wives earn more than their husbands has increased from 16 percent in 1981 to 25.2 percent in early 1993.
  • Close to 10 percent of wives in this group were earning at least 50 percent more in hourly wages than their husbands -- and 20 percent had greater annual earnings.

Nearly 60 percent of men with low pay had wives whose pay exceeded their own. But only 7 percent of men in the top fifth of earnings had wives who made more than they.

Source: Gene Koretz, "Wives With Fat Paychecks," Business Week, September 7, 1998.


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