Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Women and money....

This is part of a series on the wage gap. Often the gender wage gap is presented to show that women are opressed. They don´t earn as much as men therefor women have less power than men. Of course simply looking at this gap ignores that men and women often work in a team called marriage where one partner (most often women) cares for children and the other (most often men) is earning the money. So I want to take a look at the other side. Who controlls the money?

Some numbers:

Women spend $4 trillion annually and account for 83% of U.S. consumer spending, which makes up two-thirds of the nation's gross national product, according to WomenCertified, a women's consumer advocacy and retail training organization headquartered in Hollywood, Fla., which also worked on the study ["Men buy, women shop" - Published: November 28, 2007]
from here

According to information released by the INTEREP Radio Store, women 18 years and older control about half of the investment wealth in the United States. Women own 43% of stock portfolios valued over $50,000, and 45% of investments in other markets. […]

While men as a group may earn more money, women make more of the critical decisions about household purchasing and exercise control over many family financial resources. Women actually control 51.3% of percent wealth in the United States.

[…]

76% of Americans believe that men control more wealth than women. But a new survey of Federal Reserve Board data reveals that women actually control 51.3% of personal wealth in the United States.
from here

There are more women controlling more wealth in the U.S. than ever before. (Of those in the wealthiest tier of the country — defined by the I.R.S. as individuals with assets of at least $1.5 million — 43 percent are women.) And unlike the women who preceded them — old-school patrons who gave to the museum and the symphony and their dead husbands’ alma maters — these givers are more likely to use their wealth deliberately and systematically to aid women in need.

[...]

globally, more than 145 funds, with assets of nearly half a billion dollars, exist to improve the lives of women and girls. Many focus their efforts domestically; about a third work internationally.
from here

Men earned over 2/3 of the income in over 1/2 the couples, but did most of the money management in under 1/7 of them.
from Fleming and Easting (1994) Couples, Households and Money

A Pew Research Center study released a couple of weeks ago found that when it comes to decision making in the home, wives in a majority of cases either rule the roost or share power equally with their husbands, regardless of how much money the women earn.

Of the 1,260 men and women whom Pew pollsters surveyed over the summer, 43% responded that the woman makes most of the major decisions for the family, with 31% saying that the couple makes most decisions together. There was a small difference (within the margin of error) between the control exerted by wives who earn more than their husbands and those who earn less (46% versus 42%). But in both cases, women wielded sole decision-making power far more than men did, indicating that what "father knows best" is when to defer to mom.

Certainly that was what University of Iowa researchers found last year when they measured how couples negotiate conflict over household decisions. That study not only confirmed that men will usually go along with their wives but found that when couples do disagree, wives are far more persuasive than husbands in changing their spouses' minds.

[...]

The hypothesis that men hold more sway in relationships because they typically make more money didn't play out.

If a bigger paycheck did mean more power in any area of family decision making, the most likely one would be finances. But even there women are in charge, with more women than men in the Pew survey saying that they manage the couple's budget and wives in the Iowa study winning out over husbands in money disagreements. According to Pew, 45% of women said they hold the family purse strings compared to 37% of men.
from here

So what does this all mean? I couldn´t say it better than Scott Adams (the creator of Dilbert):

If you were from another planet, such as Switzerland, and you only knew these two facts

1) Men earn most of the money
2) Women spend most of the money

what would you assume about who is holding whom by the whatchamacallits and swinging the person who owns the whatchamacallits around in the air while yelling, "I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!"?

But it's a rhetorical question.
from The Dilbert Future, page 114, "The Future of Gender Relations"

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