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Larger Percentage of Wives Now Earning More than Their Husbands

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Wives in dual-earner households are earning more money than in the past, and many of them are passing up their husbands, according to a recent survey.   Back in 2011, the percentage of households with two incomes dropped, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.  Also, the Great Recession has affected families, with the number of single-earning households rising from 27% to 30%.   But experts say that the drop doesn’t mean that most married couples now have the luxury of having just one person earning.

“It’s hard to imagine that many families can cut back to single earners,” says UCLA sociologist Suzanne Bianchi. “In the middle-income distribution, it takes two incomes. I would also think the recession may have made people a little more risk-averse.”

Job security has evolved, and some would say that it doesn’t even exist anymore.  Jerry Jacobs, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania, says that more couples are needing two earners to get through the tough economy.  As a result, wives are contributing more to the family financial pot, rising to 40% of the total family contribution from 38% in 2006.  Also, more wives are now earning more than their husbands.

The percentage of wives earning more than their husbands has increased from 13% in 2006 to 16% today.

“Some of that has to do with the fact that men lose their jobs or are rehired into less well-paying jobs. It’s not that women are earning more in an absolute sense but earning more because their mates are earning less,” says historian Alice Kessler-Harris of Columbia University in New York.