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Does female breadwinning make partnerships less healthy or less stable?

Author

Listed:
  • Gigi Foster

    (University of New South Wales)

  • Leslie S. Stratton

    (Virginia Commonwealth University)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Gigi Foster & Leslie S. Stratton, 2021. "Does female breadwinning make partnerships less healthy or less stable?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(1), pages 63-96, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:34:y:2021:i:1:d:10.1007_s00148-020-00783-5
    DOI: 10.1007/s00148-020-00783-5
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Chris Sampson’s journal round-up for 23rd November 2020
      by Chris Sampson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2020-11-23 12:00:14

    Citations

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    Cited by:

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    2. Belinda Hewitt, 2021. "The Dynamics of Family Formation and Dissolution," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 54(4), pages 506-517, December.
    3. Daniel Graeber & Alexander S. Kritikos & Johannes Seebauer, 2021. "COVID-19: a crisis of the female self-employed," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(4), pages 1141-1187, October.
    4. Baktash, Mehrzad B. & Heywood, John S. & Jirjahn, Uwe, 2023. "Does Performance Pay Increase the Risk of Marital Instability?," GLO Discussion Paper Series 1305, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    5. Karin Hederos & Anders Stenberg, 2022. "Gender identity and relative income within households: evidence from Sweden," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 124(3), pages 744-772, July.
    6. Zhang, Yinjunjie & Breunig, Robert, 2021. "Gender Norms and Domestic Abuse: Evidence From Australia," IZA Discussion Papers 14225, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Marital dissolution; Satisfaction; Economics of gender; Social norms; Earnings differentials;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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