Higher divorce risk among marriages where wives earn more than husbands, but why?

by Grace

Despite a worldwide increase in marriages where wives are more educated than their husbands, “there are so very few marriages where women earn more than their husbands”.  And these marriages are more likely to lead to divorce.

… Evidence suggests that couples are less likely to get married if the woman’s income exceeds her partner’s. Once married, a wife earning more than her husband is more likely to be unhappy in the marriage, more likely to feel pressured to take fewer hours, and more likely to get divorced.

In what Derek Thompson of the Atlantic describes as a “cool” research paper by Marianne Bertrand, Jessica Pan, and Emir Kamenica, an “intuitive” theory for these unhappy marriages is proposed.  It’s the husband’s fault.

… What if there’s a deficit of marriages where the wife is the top earner because — to put things bluntly — husbands hate being out-earned by their wives, and wives hate living with husbands who resent them?

If this were true, we would expect to see at least three four other things to be true. First, we’d expect marriages with female breadwinners to be surprisingly rare. Second, we’d expect them to produce unhappier marriages. Third, we might expect these women to cut back on hours, do more household, or make other gestures to make their husbands feel better. Fourth, we’d expect these marriages to end more in divorce. Lo and behold (as you no doubt guessed), the economists found all of those assumptions borne out by the evidence.

Wait a minute.  Commenters to this story argue that this is just as likely to be the wife’s fault. 

What is the basis for laying this issue squarely at the feet of men?

What if there’s a deficit of marriages where the wife is the top earner because — to put things bluntly — wives hate settling for men who earn less than them and many women’s hypergamy lead them to resenting husbands whom they out-earn.

If you’re going to resort to random speculation, why not speculate equitably.

This story follows what I’ve seen described as common rule of gender issue reporting; blame it on men.

It’s a fundamental law of gender-issue reporting. Should any inequity be discovered between men and women, it must always be framed as either advantageous towards women, or, if obviously disadvantageous towards women, be framed as somehow men’s fault.

More men graduating – this is obviously a product of a sexist society and we must spend resources and restructure society to rectify this travesty.

More women graduating – the is a natural consequence of earlier female maturity and better communication skills for an information-based economy.

Men make more money – Evil, sexist. We must ban pink princess toys and create a national daycare system.

Women make more money – Hail our new feminist overlords – it’s the End of Men and “Get over it, guys. It’s a woman’s world, now.”

What if “the wives resent their husbands as losers and parasites who are not as good as other men they know”?  Especially since “84% of working women want to stay home with kids”.

Related:  Trouble for some marriages where wives earn more than husbands (Cost of College)

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