More Wives Becoming Primary Breadwinner

01.19.10 | FL News Team

More married men are counting on their wives to bring home the bacon. A new report from the Pew Research Center found women are now the primary breadwinner in one in five marriages. Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau for Americans aged 30 to 44 -- the first age group in U.S. history to have more women with college degrees than men. They found that while 78 percent of married men still make at least as much as their wives, the percentage of married women earning more than their husbands has more than quadrupled since the 1970s. The recession appears to have sped up the trend, as three-fourths of the jobs lost to the economic downturn in 2008 were held by men. The wage gap also seems to be narrowing. The Pew analysis found the average yearly salary for full-time women workers in 2007 was 33-thousand dollars. That's 71 percent of men's median income of about 46-thousand, but it's closer than four decades ago, when a woman's median income was just over half of what the average man made.

 The Pew analysis also found that most men now marry women who are at least as educated as they are. More than half of married couples between the ages 30 and 44 have roughly equal education levels, while the wife is better educated in 28 percent of marriages. The gap is greater among African Americans, where a third of wives are better-educated than their husbands. There is also a higher percentage of African-American women earning more than their husbands than women in the population in general.