Gender norms, income, and divorce.

Times are changing and in 2017 it is not uncommon to find women earning more than their husbands. How is this fact related to divorce? Marriage itself is a tradition born out of a woman’s need for financial support by a man so what happens when you take away women’s financial dependence?


According to study by the University of Chicago, when a woman earns more than her husband there is a higher likelihood for divorce than if the earning circumstances were reversed. What is most interesting here is that it is not the sheer fact that the women earn more that leads to divorce, it is a combination of factors where in the husband feels emasculated and then the woman accepts a larger proportion of household responsibility in addition to her great fiscal contribution. According to the NPR report on this study, “American women spend more time on housework than men, about 44 minutes more every day. But here’s the weird thing. The researchers found that the gap in housework got even larger when the woman was the primary earner…So they kind of turned from data to theory, like sociological theory here. They think that the explanation for that extra housework is that a high-earning woman is trying to make sure that her husband doesn’t feel threatened. The idea is basically that men might feel a bit emasculated by a woman that earns more than them. It stands to reason that a marriage could be unsuccessful if one person was both the primary financial provider and primary care giver.

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