The fading breadwinner role and the implications for young couples
P. J. Smock
It is a commonplace that the past few decades have been a time of increasing importance in the role of women as income providers, both within and outside of marriage. Drawing on data from the 1964 and 1993 March Current Population Surveys (CPS), we document the changing division of income provision within marriage and the association between changing marital income-provision roles and younger couples' economic welfare over the past thirty years. We find that the proportion of marriages in which husbands are primary breadwinners has declined dramatically, with a corresponding rise in "co-provider" marriages. Regression analyses show that (1) co- provider marriages are economically advantaged compared to other income-provision-role arrangements in both the early 1960s and the early 1990s; and (2) a relatively substantial part of the total improvement in younger couples' economic welfare over time stems from the shift towards co-provider marriages.
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