Wives are increasingly becoming the top earners in American households. The Pew Research Center reports that in 2007, in 22% of households wives earned more than their husbands. That is up from 4% in 1970.
Pew writes “This reshuffling of marriage patterns from 1970 to 2007 has occurred during a period when women’s gains relative to men’s have altered the demographic characteristics of potential mates.” Women are, in other words, better educated and better prepared to be offered high-paid jobs.
The myth of the “stay at home dad” may no longer be a myth. Unemployment is, by the broadest measurement, over 17%. That means a lot of dual-income households are now single income households. Women are probably no more or less likely to have lost their jobs since the recession began. Woman are still paid less than men based on comparable employment positions. A low-paid but skilled woman is valuable when money is tight.
The news does not mean much to women at the highest level of the employment ladder. There are still remarkably few female CEOs and very few board members at large companies.
Women may be out-earing their husbands in more cases, but that does not mean that the cause of equal pay is by any means over.
Douglas A. McIntyre