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Marriage for the most part is still about men


“The economic situation for men has an important effect on marriage formation”

Marriage, for the most part, is still about men

Among the most consistent and robust predictors of marriage are men's employment and economic potential. Those who are employed and who demonstrate greater economic potential have been shown to be more likely to enter into marriage across many time periods and for various types of groups.

Men are important for another reason too. Women in a relationship typically wait for their male partner to propose marriage. Even when females suggest or hint at formalizing a relationship, the proposal is often repeated by the man before engagement is publicly announced.

The marriage worthiness of men continues to be based on highly gendered assumptions about the division of labor that should take place within marriage, especially after the birth of children.

Both men and women still expect the man rather than the woman to be able to support an anticipated family before transitioning to marriage.

Historically, the timing of marriage has been strongly connected to the man's earning capacity, as women tend to earn less than their male partner. Women also usually take employment leave or reduce their working hours for child-bearing and child-raising.


Exhibit 1-4: Contribution of wives' earnings to family income

Contribution of Wives Earnings To Family Income.png

Source: US Bureau of Labor, Annual Social and Economic Supplements, Equity Communications

Exhibit 1-5: Wives' who earn more than their husbands are still a minority

Percentage of Wives Who Earn Than Husbands.png

Note: Families in which both wives and husbands have earnings. Data reflect earnings and work experience for the entire year. Earnings include self-employment earnings.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Annual Social and Economic Supplements, Equity Communications

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