While 24 percent of working wives now earn more than their husbands, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a new Gallup Poll says most married women still have a long way to go before catching up with the earning power of their spouse.
An analysis of income sources found that 54 percent of working married persons live in a home where the husband brings in all or most of the family income. In contrast, just 13 percent live in a household where the wife brings home most or all of the pay.
In nearly a third (32 percent) of homes, husbands and wives said they earn roughly the same income.
Husbands were described as sole earners in 28 percent of households and as earning a lot more than the wife in 26 percent more. Husbands earned a little more than their wives in 16 percent of homes, husbands and wives earned about the same in 11 percent and the wife earned a little more than the husband in 5 percent.
The wife was described as sole earner in 8 percent of households and as having a much larger income than the husband in 5 percent.
“For all the impressive advances in gender equity in the United States over the past several decades,” Gallup said in a news release, “husbands are still the primary wage earners in most working families.”
Men were most likely to earn all or most of the income (61 percent) in homes with children under 18. The gap narrows in childless homes, where 44 percent of men earn most or all of the income and men and women make about the same in 36 percent.
The difference in earning power between males and females is perhaps most pronounced in households earning $50,000 or more a year. In nearly two-thirds of those households (66 percent) the husband earned all or much more than the wife. Just 54 percent of homes with the wife earning all or much more than the husband brought in more than $50,000.
While two-income households have become more accepted in society, it can still make some people uncomfortable when the wife earns more than the husband, according to a CNN commentary.
While small disparities in income cause the fewest difficulties, some men feel threatened when the woman’s salary jumps far ahead of his or he loses his job, said Randi Minetor, author of Breadwinner Wives and the Men They Marry.
Minetor found that whatever their comparative income, the wife often tends to be the primary housekeeper. That can lead to resentment when she earns most of the income and is married to someone who is not pulling a fair share of the workload at home.
Outsiders can also be disparaging to men who earn less than their wives. “People tell you he’s lazy, he’s taking advantage of you, he’ll never amount to much, he’s a gold digger,” Minetor said.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com
Managing editor at EthicsDaily.com from 2003-2009, Allen wrote more than 1,500 news stories during his tenure.