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Women Becoming the Breadwinners in Relationships

December 9th, 2009

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Long gone are the days where Stanley Kowalskis come lumbering to hurl hunks of butcher-fresh meat to their Stellas waiting at home – days when men would literally "bring home the bacon." These days, the tables are turning and more and more women are becoming the breadwinners of the relationships.

This reversal in trends reflects the growing number of women achieving a higher education. In 2006, a whopping 58 percent of the nation's college student population was comprised of women, according to the New York Times. Many more women are also going on to earn higher degrees at universities than ever before, meaning that now there are numerous women holding master's and doctoral degrees. In fact, the amount of women who are achieving academic success is rapidly catching up to the amount of men who hold higher degrees. While the rate of men who go on to earn higher education has remained relatively stable for the past few decades, women are progressing at a much quicker pace. As a result, there are a greatly increasing number of women holding professional degrees without an increasing number of men to match. This may be a contributing factor to the growing trend of women getting into relationships with men who have a lower education level and lower salary.

The stigma for men who earn less than their wives is slowly dissolving as well, making such relationship pairings more common. In 2007, only 19 percent of men had more education than their wives in comparison to the 28 percent of women who had more education than their husbands, according to a report from the Pew Research Center. This is an eight percent increase from the 20 percent of women who had more education than their husbands in 1970, whereas the number of men who have more education than their wives dropped nine percent since then. A higher education typically translates to higher earnings as well, which means that more women now are earning more than their husbands.

While there are still a great number of women who choose to become house wives upon marriage, there is also an increase in relationships where both partners work. As a result, the net household income for many families has increased over the past few decades, which is not a bad deal for anyone involved, whether it is the man or the woman who brings in the heftier paycheck.

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