Women Are Outearning Their Husbands But Still Do Lion’s Share Of Housework

By Martin B

A recent report by the Pew Research Center highlights the evolving dynamics of gender roles in households, revealing that while more women become breadwinners, the division of labor at home has seen limited change.

Over the past five decades, women earning as much as or more than their husbands has significantly increased. Only over 50% of opposite-sex marriages nowadays have husbands who are the primary or sole breadwinners, a far cry from more than 85% 50 years ago. Conversely, in about 16% of such marriages, the wife is the breadwinner, up from just 5% in the past.

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More women are likely to out-earn their husbands due to rising education levels. However, despite this financial empowerment, women are still expected to do most household chores and caregiving responsibilities.

The report underscores that traditional gender roles persist in many marriages, with women taking on more responsibilities at home despite their financial contributions. Even in marriages where both spouses earn roughly the same, women spend more time on housework and caregiving, revealing a persistent gender imbalance.

There are exceptions when the wife is the sole breadwinner; husbands spend more time caregiving in such marriages. However, both spouses still spend roughly the same time on household chores.

A few factors influence these dynamics, such as race, age, and family size, with older women, Black women, and women without children more likely to be breadwinners.

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Experts emphasize that open communication and negotiation within relationships are essential to addressing these imbalances. Couples need honest conversations about their roles, responsibilities, and how to equitably manage household tasks and family expenses. This approach can lead to more balanced relationships where both partners contribute financially and in caregiving and housework.

The report highlights the need for continued efforts to challenge and change traditional gender roles in households, fostering more equitable partnerships where responsibilities are shared based on abilities and preferences rather than gender norms.