STUDY: Women Who Earn More Than Their Husbands Are Less Happy


Ellie Gardey Contributor
Font Size:

Women with a higher salary than their husbands are less happy than women with a lower salary than their husbands, a new study from the Institute for Family Studies found. 

Breadwinner wives in the survey reported lower measures of marital satisfaction and family satisfaction. Only 56% of women earning more than their husbands felt very satisfied with their family lives compared to nearly 70% of women earning less than their husbands who felt very satisfied.

Kay Hymowitz, the William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, told the Daily Caller this is a result of women’s unique characteristics: “Women are just more emotionally tied to their children in a way their husbands aren’t—but not expecting to be—and then torn into pieces with the demands of their kids and work.”

Aliya Rao, assistant professor of sociology at Singapore Management University, offered a contradictory perspective. “Dissatisfaction could stem from the question of why their earnings don’t ‘buy them out’ of housework,” she told the Caller. She cited studies that show women do more housework and childcare than their husbands even when they are primary breadwinner.

Hymowitz disputed the idea that men and women would ever do equal amounts of housework and childcare, saying, “Personally, I don’t think we’re ever going to find that parity.”

“We imagine that there aren’t basic differences between mothers and fathers. I think that’s the problem,” Hymowitz said, adding, “Women have a greater concern for the daily details of their children’s lives: they’re the ones scheduling doctor appointments, hiring a babysitter, and buying a birthday present for a friend’s party.”

In January, Tucker Carlson had a segment in his “Men in America” series in which he said there is greater drug and alcohol abuse, higher incarceration rates, and fewer families in areas where women outearn men.

Tucker’s comments ignited a Twitter frenzy from feminists.

Prior to this study, there was wide speculation that men are dissatisfied when their wife earns more than them. A study from the American Psychological Association showed that men have lower self-esteem when their wife is the breadwinner.

Curiously, the study from the Institute for Family Studies reported that men suffer no happiness penalty when their wife earns more than them. 

Wendy Wang, director of research at the Institute for Family Studies, told the Daily Caller “Some reason men need to be the primary breadwinner to feel like they’re masculine.” Wang said, “But I don’t see a big difference in the data. If their wife is doing more chores and childcare and is working full time, men are very happy with their family situation.”

This is not the first study that shows a marriage can hit the rocks when the wife earns more than the husband. A study released in 2017 demonstrated that the divorce rate is 33% higher when the wife is the primary provider.