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Does female breadwinning make partnerships less healthy or less stable?

Gigi Foster and Leslie Stratton

Journal of Population Economics, 2021, vol. 34, issue 1, No 3, 63-96

Abstract: Abstract Social norms can have a persistent influence on outcomes. Since the end of World War II, men have been the primary breadwinner in most households in the developed world, and US data from the late twentieth century suggests violation of this norm stresses partnerships. Is this still true? We examine whether female breadwinning makes partnerships less healthy or less stable using more recent US and Australian data. We find a much more modest association in both countries between female breadwinning and measures of relationship health or stability in OLS models for mixed-gender couples than has been found in prior studies. Transitions into female breadwinning are problematic mainly for cohabiting couples and especially so for younger people and less-educated men. These results suggest that social norms may be weakening, but mating market dynamics may also play a role. We find some evidence that cohabiting women in Australia who out-earn their partners subsequently re-partner with men who have higher earnings relative to themselves.

Keywords: Marital dissolution; Satisfaction; Economics of gender; Social norms; Earnings differentials; J12; J16; I31; Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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Working Paper: Does Female Breadwinning Make Partnerships Less Healthy or Less Stable? (2018) Downloads
Working Paper: Does female breadwinning make partnerships less healthy or less stable? (2018) Downloads
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DOI: 10.1007/s00148-020-00783-5

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