Does Earning More Than Your Spouse Increase Your Financial Satisfaction? A Comparison of Men and Women in the United States, 1982 to 2012
Gregory Eirich & Joan Robinson
Journal of Family Issues, December 2017, Pages 2371-2399
Scholars have argued that both husbands and wives are less satisfied if wives outearn their husbands because this violates the norms of the male breadwinner model. Some scholars find support for this hypothesis when studying the division of household work, marital dissolution, or depression, but other scholars do not find clear evidence. This article adds to this literature by asking how people's roles in bringing money into the household (as a primary or secondary earner) affect how they feel about that money itself. Analysis of decades of U.S. data finds a clear and consistent result: individuals - whether men or women, whether committed to the male breadwinner model or not - are all more satisfied with their family's financial situation when they earn more than their spouse. Here, generic social psychological processes (like relative deprivation) appear to trump even powerful worldviews, like the male breadwinner model.
Bargaining within the family can generate a political gender gap
Linda Cohen & Amihai Glazer
Review of Economics of the Household, December 2017, Pages 1399-1413
Consider spouses who engage in Nash bargaining to allocate resources between them. The person with a higher income when unmarried enjoys a larger share of the joint income, and benefits less from an increase in joint income. This difference can cause spouses who have the same utility functions and the same family incomes to differ in their benefits from governmental tax and spending policies, and to cast opposing votes. In particular, these incentives can generate a gender gap, with women more supportive than men of governmental taxes and spending.
Does a Woman's Marital Surname Choice Influence Perceptions of Her Husband? An Analysis Focusing on Gender-Typed Traits and Relationship Power Dynamics
Rachael Robnett, Marielle Wertheimer & Harriet Tenenbaum
Sex Roles, forthcoming
Within Western cultures, most women in heterosexual relationships adopt their husbands' surnames after marriage. In attempting to explain the enduring nature of this practice, researchers have noted that women tend to encounter stereotypes when they break with tradition by retaining their own surnames after marriage. A complementary possibility is that stereotypes are also directed toward men whose wives violate the surname tradition. The current research provides initial insight into this possibility through three studies that were conducted in the United States and United Kingdom with undergraduate and community samples (total N = 355; 254 women and 101 men). Study 1 revealed that participants predominantly referenced expressive traits when describing a man whose wife retained her surname. Study 2 built on these findings with an experimental design. Relative to a man whose wife adhered to the surname tradition, a man whose wife retained her surname was rated as less instrumental, more expressive, and as holding less power in the relationship. In Study 3, participants high in hostile sexism were particularly likely to rate a man as lower in power when his wife retained her surname. Collectively, findings provide insight into attitudes that may help to explain the longevity of the marital surname tradition. Findings also join with prior research in revealing links between commonplace marriage traditions and gendered power dynamics.
House Price Shocks and Individual Divorce Risk in the United States
Journal of Family and Economic Issues, December 2017, Pages 628-649
Households in the United States hold a significant portion of their total wealth in owner-occupied housing. Thus, changes in housing prices may have an important impact on the marital surplus the household enjoys. What happens to marriages of homeowners when there is a shock to housing prices? This question was addressed using household data from the panel study of income dynamics (PSID) and a quarterly MSA level house price index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, controlling for local labor market conditions. House price shocks were calculated as the cumulative sum of residuals of a second order autoregressive model from the previous four years. Results showed that positive house price shocks stabilized marriage for all couples. A one standard deviation increase in the house price shock decreased the risk of divorce in the following year by about 13-18%. The results were driven by the younger cohort of households in the PSID, those with lower educational attainment, and those with relatively low family income. The findings are discussed in the context of theories on changes in marital surplus, and changes in the transaction costs surrounding divorce.
Household Income, Women's Earnings, and Spending on Household Services, 1980-2010
Sabino Kornrich & Allison Roberts
Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming
The authors investigated changes in household outsourcing, the practice of spending on services that replace household labor, from 1980 to 2010. During this time, women's labor force participation, increased and economic, household bargaining, and time availability theories predict increased spending during this period. To test these predictions, the authors used data on spending on housekeeping, day care, babysitting and nannies, gardening and lawn services, eating out and pre-prepared foods from the 1980-2010 Consumer Expenditure Surveys using 327,903 household-quarters from the interview survey and 86,877 household-weeks from the diary survey. The results indicate that changes in income predicted increases in housekeeping, child care, and gardening services. Changes in household characteristics predicted little change in food outsourcing, although food outsourcing did increase. Changes in women's earnings predicted little change in most outsourcing. The authors conclude the article with a discussion of the changing context for outsourcing.
"You've Changed": Low Self-Concept Clarity Predicts Lack of Support for Partner Change
Lydia Emery et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming
People often pursue self-change, and having a romantic partner who supports these changes increases relationship satisfaction. However, most existing research focuses only on the experience of the person who is changing. What predicts whether people support their partner's change? People with low self-concept clarity resist self-change, so we hypothesized that they would be unsupportive of their partner's changes. People with low self-concept clarity did not support their partner's change (Study 1a), because they thought they would have to change, too (Study 1b). Low self-concept clarity predicted failing to support a partner's change, but not vice versa (Studies 2 and 3), and only for larger changes (Study 3). Not supporting a partner's change predicted decreases in relationship quality for both members of the couple (Studies 2 and 3). This research underscores the role of partners in self-change, suggesting that failing to support a partner's change may stem from self-concept confusion.
The development of marital tension: Implications for divorce among married couples
Kira Birditt et al.
Developmental Psychology, October 2017, Pages 1995-2006
Marriages are often characterized by their positive and negative features in terms of whether they elicit feelings of satisfaction and happiness or conflict and negativity. Although research has examined the development of marital happiness, less is known about the development of negativity among married couples. We examined how marital tension (i.e., feelings of tension, resentment, irritation) develops within couples over time and whether marital tension has unique implications for divorce. Specifically, we examined marital tension among husbands and wives within the same couples from the first to the sixteenth year of marriage, as well as links between marital tension and divorce. Participants included 355 couples assessed in years 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, and 16 of marriage. Multilevel models revealed that wives reported greater marital tension than husbands. Marital tension increased over time among both husbands and wives, with a greater increase among husbands. Couples were more likely to divorce when wives reported higher marital tension, a greater increase in marital tension, and greater cumulative marital tension. Findings are consistent with the emergent distress model of marriage, but indicate that despite the greater increases in marital tension among husbands, wives' increased marital tension over the course of marriage is more consistently associated with divorce.
Pornography, provocative sexual media, and their differing associations with multiple aspects of sexual satisfaction
Nathan Leonhardt & Brian Willoughby
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming
Recent research has suggested that sexual content and sexual satisfaction are multifaceted. Yet, no study has parceled out how distinct aspects of sexual content may be associated with multiple aspects of sexual satisfaction. In this study of 858 individuals in a committed romantic relationship, we used structural equation models to evaluate how two components of sexual content (pornography use and provocative sexual media use) were associated with several components of sexual satisfaction (time spent on foreplay, variety, overall satisfaction, frequency, love and affection, and time spent on intercourse) for both men and women. The specific path coefficients of the models revealed that higher pornography use was significantly associated with lower satisfaction with sexual variety and time spent on intercourse for men, yet not associated with any sexual satisfaction outcomes for women. However, greater use of provocative sexual media for men and women was significantly associated with lower satisfaction with the love and affection in the sexual relationship. Provocative sexual media use for women was also associated with lower satisfaction with sexual variety, overall sexual satisfaction, and time spent on intercourse. Our results supported the differentiation of different components of sexual content viewed and sexual satisfaction in gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of both constructs.
The Effects of Job Relocation on Spousal Careers: Evidence from Military Change of Station Moves
Jeremy Burke & Amalia Miller
University of Virginia Working Paper, September 2017
We investigate the impact of military job relocation on spousal earnings and employment by creating a unique longitudinal database that tracks over 900,000 military spouses over the period 2001-2012, based on data from two administrative sources - military records on personnel and their dependents, and Social Security earnings records. This database allows us to estimate the effects of military change of station moves controlling for some key observable characteristics of the service-member and household and controlling for individual spouse fixed effects. We find that military moves cause a substantial decline in spousal earnings in the year of the move, on the order of $2,100, or 14% of average spousal earnings. Moves also increase the likelihood that the spouse has no earnings for the year. We find larger earnings reductions for moves that cross state lines, and for older spouses, male spouses, and those with young children. The career costs persist over time and spouses continue to experience significantly lower earnings 2 years after the move. This persistence, combined with the typical military member experiencing a change of station move every two or three years, may substantially limit the ability of military spouses to accumulate human capital over time.