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Female Breadwinner Families: Their Existence, Persistence and Sources

  • Robert Drago


    (Department of Labor Studies and Industrial Relations, Pennsylvania State University)

  • David Black


    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

  • Mark Wooden


    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

We develop a typology for understanding couple households where the female is the major earner – what we term female breadwinner households – and test it using data from the first two waves of the HILDA Survey. We distinguish temporary from persistent female breadwinner households and hypothesise, and confirm, that these two groups diverge on demographic, socio-economic status (SES), labour market and family commitment characteristics. Among the persistent group we further distinguish those couples where the dominance of a female earner is related to economic factors and those where it appears associated with a purposeful gender equity strategy. We again hypothesise and confirm that these household types significantly diverge, finding that men in the economic group exhibit low SES, poor labour market position, and low levels of commitment to family, while both the women and men in the equity type often achieve positive outcomes regarding gender equity and economic and family success.

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Paper provided by Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne in its series Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series with number wp2004n19.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2004n19
Contact details of provider: Postal: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia
Phone: +61 3 8344 2100
Fax: +61 3 8344 2111
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  1. Mark Wooden & Simon Freidin & Nicole Watson, 2002. "The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA)Survey: Wave 1," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 35(3), pages 339-348.
  2. Bruce Headey & Mark Wooden & Gary Marks, 2004. "The Structure and Distribution of Household Wealth in Australia," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2004n12, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
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