The marriage rate in the US is at the lowest its been in over a century, having dropped 5% during the recent recession (among adults aged 25 to 39 the rate declined from 81% in 1970 to 51% in 2010). Experts believe the decline in the marriage rate is due to “cultural changes about whether and when to marry, the fact that two-thirds of first marriages are preceded by cohabitation and the recession’s financial fallout – including unemployment and underemployment.” But could their be another reason? Like, women earning higher salaries than ever before and many men feeling uncomfortable marrying a woman who earns more than they do?
Three economists — Marianne Bertrand and Emir Kamenica of the University of Chicago and Jessica Pan from the National University of Singapore — tested this hypothesis and found that “the odds of a couple marrying falls off once the woman makes more than the man. Of the 30 percentage-point drop in the marriage rate [from 1970 to 2010], seven points came from the income shift.”
The researchers also found that in response to this gap and in a desire to wed, a significant share of women have decided to work less outside the home, hurting “the potential growth rate for the U.S. economy as a whole,” and risking “being short-changed later on when her Social Security or pension is calculated.”
Despite the fear that a high-earning career will come at the sacrifice of a marriage and family, some women say “fuck it” and keep their jobs. And many of them, of course, DO get married, but the sacrifice they make is to work more that their husbands inside the home to “assuage the men’s unease.”
Finally, the researchers discovered that “divorce happens more often in marriages with higher-earning wives.” Well, if you want a better chance at avoiding divorce, here’s my advice: take that extra money a family has these days with the wife’s big paycheck and hire a maid!
And to all you ambitious, high-earning single female readers out there, of which I know there are a lot, don’t waste your time on a man who is threatened by your career and financial success. There really are a great number of men who would be happy to be with someone like you and have some of the financial burden lifted off their shoulders — or at least shared a little more equally than it has been traditionally.
Times are a changin’ and I think we will continue to see trends like this in coming years and decades. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 20 years women are the primary breadwinner in a majority of (opposite-sex) marriages. Eventually, our cultural perceptions are going to follow this shift and it won’t be such a fight for men — and women — to embrace the changing roles.
[via DigTriad.com and Wall Street Journal]