Bring home the bacon

Domestic financial power when women earn more than men.

“It is often asserted that a husband’s role and worth are identified with his ability to earn a living for his family,” write the authors of an article published in the September 2005 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

However, in American families where wives currently earn more money than their husbands there is not evidence to suggest that they also gain increased decision making authority. “Advocates of resource theory have long suggested that when women make substantial economic contributions to the household, power and control in decision-making will shift in their favor,” write Suraj Commuri (University of Missouri-Columbia) and James Gentry (University of Nebraska-Lincoln). Their research demonstrates that in families where the women are earning more than their spouses they are not simultaneously earning domestic power.

Commuri and Gentry stress the importance of this research as well as the need for future examination of the issue of the wife as the primary wage earner: “Although the wife earns more than the husband in a third of all US families, the fact that this is one of the first investigations of WCWE households in the field of consumer behavior signals an urgency to pay attention to a diversity of household forms that have remained under-investigated. Previous marriages, second families, age at marriage, ownership of property before marriage, all of these have the potential to influence how a couple makes purchases and consumption decisions, yet all receive far too little research attention.”


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