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  • Young daters today prefer status-equal partnerships
  • The traditional setup of a single breadwinner in a family is no longer sustainable
  • Despite the findings, the gender pay gap remains significant

Marriages in which the wife earns more than the husband are becoming more common these days and are less likely to end up in divorce than in the past, a study has found.

Couples who were married in the '60s and '70s were 70% more likely to split when the wife earned the same as or slightly higher than the husband, according to research from sociologists Christine Schwartz and Pilar Gonalons-Pons of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Pennsylvania, respectively.

But the divorce rate of couples married in the '90s in which the wife is the breadwinner fell to 4% higher than those in which the husband is the breadwinner, the study showed.

The researchers pointed to cultural as well as economic shifts over the years as the reason behind the success of marriages with female breadwinners. Schwartz noted that growth in women's educational and career trajectories has removed the stigma faced by men earning less.

With the cost of living getting higher each year, more couples are maximizing their respective incomes to build a more comfortable life together.

"As the gendered expectations associated with heterosexual marriage have changed, so may have the association between outearning one's husband and marital dissolution," the study said.

"A common theme among family scholars is that the institution of marriage has shifted away from rigid gender specialization toward more flexible, egalitarian partnerships," it added.

The study also found that young daters today prefer "status-equal" partnerships.

According to the study, there was a "100% increase" in the share of wives who outearned their husbands between the late 1960s and 2000s.

Just 13% of wives outearned their husbands among couples married in 1968 and 1969, but this jumped to 27% among those married in 2005 through 2009.

According to Johanna Rickne, professor of economics at the Swedish Institute for Social Research at Stockholm University, men used to worry that having a more financially successful wife could be detrimental to their own careers, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The professor told WSJ that there has been "progress in the sensitivity to women's economic empowerment within relationships."

However, despite the shifting viewpoints, the pay gap between men and women in the workforce remains significant. A Pew Research Center analysis found that as of 2022, women earned an average of 82% of what men earned.

The same period also recorded a decline in the divorce rate, with young daters today preferring to settle down at later ages when they're likely more stable financially and career-wise, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data revealed.

The traditional marriage set-up of a single breadwinner in a family is no longer a sustainable model for more and more couples over the years, Jennifer Glass, professor of liberal arts and executive director for the Council on Contemporary Families at the University of Texas at Austin, told WSJ.

"The traditional family structure leaves you poor today," she said, highlighting that the median cost of enrolling infants at daycare centers ranges from $8,000 a year in rural areas to almost $17,000 in major cities.

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