Husbands' and wives' relative income: Persistence, variation, and outcomes
Although we know much about the strides women have made in closing gender gaps in the public sphere, our knowledge of economic gender gaps within families remains limited. This dissertation expands this body of literature through analyses of panel data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The first section examines variation in couples' earnings patterns at a single point in time by race/ethnicity and overall economic position. The data indicate substantial variation by race and income quartile in couples' single-year earnings patterns, with Black wives more likely than their White counterparts to be either co-providers or primary earners and wives in low-income couples more likely than women in couples in the top income quartile to significantly out earn their husbands. The second section presents analyses of fluctuation in wives' income advantage over a period of consecutive years. While prior research has documented an increase in the population in the percentage of wives earning more than their husbands, analyses of panel data in this dissertation indicate that, where a female income advantage exists in couples, it is overwhelmingly temporary rather than persistent, with less than six percent of wives out earning their husbands for five consecutive years. Moreover, contrary to popular imagery, persistent income advantages are concentrated among Black wives and those at the bottom of the income distribution. A final empirical section examines the relationship between the persistence of wives' income advantage and marital conflict, providing evidence that fluctuation in who holds the income advantage over a period of years---not a persistent advantage on the part of wives---is associated with higher levels of marital conflict in couples. This project aims to rigorously examine taken-for-granted public assumptions about women's progress in closing economic gender gaps. With its focus on dynamic, longitudinal analyses and attention to variation by key demographic, economic and, life course factors, this research fills important gaps in our knowledge of the economics of the family.
|Year of publication:||
|Authors:||Winslow-Bowe, Sarah E|
|Type of publication:||Other|
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