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Does female breadwinning make partnerships less healthy or less stable?


  • Foster, Gigi
  • Stratton, Leslie S.


Using Bertrand, Kamenica and Pan’s (2015) original data, we find that female breadwinning is significantly associated with partnership problems only for older women in cross sections, but for younger ones in fixed-effects specifications. In more recent US and Australian data, female breadwinning is associated with a modestly higher dissolution risk and a fall in some measures of reported relationship quality, but mainly for young people in cohabiting partnerships and men in less educated partnerships. We suggest our results reflect changing norms plus market dynamics arising from the ease of access to superior partnership alternatives for women who out-earn their partners.

Suggested Citation

  • Foster, Gigi & Stratton, Leslie S., 2018. "Does female breadwinning make partnerships less healthy or less stable?," GLO Discussion Paper Series 259, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:259

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ariel J. Binder & David Lam, 2018. "Is There a Male Breadwinner Norm? The Hazards of Inferring Preferences from Marriage Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 24907, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Jonathan Guryan & Jessica Pan, 2018. "The Effects of Sexism on American Women: The Role of Norms vs. Discrimination," NBER Working Papers 24904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Gigi Foster & Leslie S. Stratton, 2018. "Do significant labor market events change who does the chores? Paid work, housework, and power in mixed-gender Australian households," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 31(2), pages 483-519, April.
    4. Gigi Foster & Leslie S. Stratton, 2019. "What women want (their men to do): Housework and Satisfaction in Australian Households," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(3), pages 23-47, July.
    5. Marianne Bertrand & Emir Kamenica & Jessica Pan, 2015. "Gender Identity and Relative Income within Households," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(2), pages 571-614.
    6. Zinovyeva, Natalia & Tverdostup, Maryna, 2018. "Gender Identity, Co-Working Spouses and Relative Income within Households," IZA Discussion Papers 11757, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    More about this item


    Social Norms; Gender; Separation and Divorce; Cohabitation; Satisfaction;

    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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