Some 24 percent of married women earn more than their spouses, up
from 6 percent in 1960s. Overall, 40 percent of breadwinners in
American households with children under the age 18 are women,
according to the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank. (That
figure was 11 percent in 1960.)
The trend of woman-as-breadwinner is the subject of the new book
"When She Makes More" by personal finance expert Farnoosh Torabi.
Reuters spoke with Torabi about income inequality on the home front
along with her tips for making a relationship work when women out
Q. What's the best way to navigate the financial and emotional
impact when a woman is the breadwinner?
A. When she makes more, she's more likely to take on day-to-day and
long-term financial decision making. The study we did in conjunction
with the book found that 62 percent of women who out earn their
partner or spouse pay the bills; 56 percent of them monitor
household spending and 59 percent oversee budgeting as well as
One of the challenges is that he can feel left out. She may start to
associate making more money with being the more powerful decision
As the female breadwinner, you may have a hard time letting go of
the money sometimes, especially if you've been single for a long
Among couples who experience financial friction, it's often because
there is one bank account. The first thing to do is to set up three
bank accounts: mine, his and ours. 'Mine' is the money you set aside
for yourself (a slush fund for manicures and pedicures). 'His' is
his domain and 'Ours' can be used to pay household bills or for the
things that come up in a marriage or partnership.
Q. There has been backlash about your book. What's behind the
A. There's a division within the female community over this topic.
Women in relationships who are making more than their husbands are
latching onto the message and appreciate that there is a
conversation out in the public.
But then there are women who think identifying this as an issue is
not a win for women. Americans at large believe it is a man's
responsibility to provide for his family. And some men and women
have antiquated views about what it means to be in a heterosexual
[to top of second column]
Q. What are the biggest challenges for women who out earn men?
A. It's unfair to assume everything is hunky dory 'when she makes
more.' For one thing, money doesn't equal power.
Institutions and companies don't provide enough support for the
modern couple who may need something like paid leave to help a
family member or to handle childcare. On the flip side, people
assume that the man who isn't climbing the corporate ladder as
aggressively as his wife lacks ambition. That's not a fair
Q. What's the best way to level the playing field between men and
A. Communication is a loaded word, but you really do have to
communicate with your partner. The younger generation has a better
time with this than older generations because Millennials are being
raised with a different set of family dynamics. Their expectation is
not necessarily that the man will be the provider. They have more
realistic expectations of what it means to be in a relationship.
The couples that are most successful don't stay rigid in terms of
what their roles are when they got married. They go with the flow if
someone gets laid off or has not found a job yet. They understand
what it means to get over the hump.
(Reporting By Lauren Young. Editing by Beth Pinsker and Andre
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