Women still secondary breadwinners in marriages

A study published in the latest issue of Journal of Marriage and Family documents the changes in dual-income married couples for more than thirty years, from 1970 to 2001. The authors find that despite the increase in women's employment over the last three decades, the vast majority of wives are still secondary earners. Secondary earners make less than 40 percent of the couple's income. The authors found that 39 percent of wives, more than any other group, were classified as secondary providers as recently as 2001.

In that same year, 25 percent of wives were not employed. Although the proportion of wives whose contributions to their family income equaled that of their husbands had nearly doubled since the 1970s, they represent only 24 percent. The number of wives who earn substantially more than their husbands has also increased, tripling to 12 percent. Yet both equal providers and wives who provide more income than their husbands still remain the minority. The authors used the Current Population Survey data for 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2001 to gauge these changes


This article has been updated since its orginial posting.

This study is published in the February issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact [email protected]

The Journal of Marriage and Family (JMF) has been one of the leading research journals in the family field for over 60 years. JMF features original research and theory, research interpretation and reviews, and critical discussion concerning all aspects of marriage, other forms of close relationships, and families. It is published by the National Council on Family Relations. Information about the National Council on Family Relations can be found at www.ncfr.org.

Co-author Sara Raley is a research assistant. She has taught classes on sociology of gender and understanding the world through reading at the University of Maryland. Ms. Raley is available for media questions and interviews.

Dr. Marybeth Mattingly and Dr. Suzanne Bianchi co-authored the study.

Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering with 665 academic and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 800 journals and, to date, has published more than 6,000 books, across a wide range of academic, medical, and professional subjects.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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