The Rise of Wives

February 18th, 2010 | Sources: Pew Research Center, Washington Post


More women than ever are better-educated than their husbands and in nearly 20% of marriages, they earn more than their husbands, according to a report released last week by the Pew Research Center

I'mbuyingdolcegabannaTo reach these conclusions, Richard Fry and colleagues examined Census Bureau data for US-born married couples between the ages of 30 and 44, an age group that was the first ever to feature more women with college degrees than men.

The Pew study revealed that men nowadays tend to get an economic boost when they marry someone with as much or more education than they have. 

“Marriage now is a better deal for men,” Fry told the Washington Post. “Now when men marry, often their spouse works quite a bit. Often she is better-educated than the guy.”

According to the report, more than half of all married couples nowadays feature spouses with nearly equal levels of education. In 28% of all marriages, the wife had more education, whereas in 19% the man had more.

Even so, 78% of married men make more money than their wives, although the gap is narrowing.  In 1970 for example, 96% of married men earned more than their spouses.

This income gap is narrowing across all economic strata. For example, in 1970, 4% of male high-school grads had wives that earned more money than they did. That number is now 24%. The numbers are nearly identical for those with “some college” education. For male college graduates, 3% had wives that earned more than they did in 1970. That number is now up to 18%.

Currently, the median income for men is about $46,000, about 30% higher than the median income of women. Back in 1970, men’s incomes were twice that of women’s.


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