In 1972, husbands were the primary or sole breadwinners in 85% of U.S. married households, while 5% of wives made all or most of the money, and 11% of married couples had equal salaries. According to the Pew Research Center, things have changed quite a bit in 50 years.
According to new Pew data, 55% of husbands are now the primary or sole financial supporters (a 35% drop). Financially egalitarian marriages have risen to 29% (more than a 160% increase), and 16% of married women provide the lioness’ share of family finances (a 220% increase).
Yet the more things change, the more they remain the same. Wives are working more, but “the way couples divide their time between paid work and home life remains unbalanced,” per the report. “Women pick up a heavier load when it comes to household chores and caregiving responsibilities, while men spend more time on work and leisure.” That’s true even when wives are the primary breadwinner.
Demographics were also relevant. “Black women, those with a four-year college degree, those ages 55 to 64 and those with no children” were the likeliest to support their families at the highest rates, according to Pew.
Rabbi Jack Cohen, who mentors Jewish couples in dating and marriage, has seen dramatic changes in the dating landscape, which are connected to the data Pew is tracking. Especially among older Jewish singles, women often earn more than men, in Cohen’s experience.
Cohen, who is also a podiatrist, often counsels Jewish women to be careful not to intimidate Jewish men whose earnings they match or outpace. “The guy’s all about ego,” he told JNS.
Dual incomes come in handy during inflationary times, he added, and a dual-income couple can be a “fantastic dynamic.”
But he cautioned that working couples can often be very busy and lose focus on their commonality: “They drift as human beings.”