Thursday, April 5, 2012

The rich husband effect

Found via Genderama. The Reuters link:

It shows that between 1993 and 2006, there was a decline in the workforce of 0.1 percent a year on average in the number of college-educated women, with similarly educated spouses. That contrasts with growth of 2.4 percent a year between 1976 and 1992. The result: the labor force in 2008 had 1.64 million fewer such women than if the growth rate had kept up its earlier trend, slightly more than 1 percent of the total workforce in that year. [...] Albanesi links the decline in the number of well-educated, married women entering the labor force to a sharp rise in salaries for top earners in the United States, and in particular, for men. In 1975, college graduates of both sexes were making 43 percent more than non-college graduates. By 2008, the figure had risen to 92 percent for men and to 70 percent for women. "In the last 20 years, wages for highly educated males increased so much that they dwarfed the family's second income, usually the one of their wives," said Albanesi, who co-authored the study with Columbia University graduate student Maria Prados. "The result was that sometimes married women exited the labor force mid-career, exactly around the time their husbands are promoted to more senior roles. They stopped getting income they didn't need and so they left the labor force forever." [...] But as the economy stabilized in the past two years, there have been signs that the retreat has resumed, Albanesi said. Of all working-age women, 58.6 percent were either working or looking for a job in 2010, down from 59.2 percent in 2009. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expected the rate to fall further by 2020. According to Albanesi, it's not the tug of looking after young children that makes most educated women give up their career. "These women usually give up their jobs when their children are school-age and not babies any more," Albanesi said. Studies by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Harvard support that view.[...] But the trend is not limited to top earners. It has been detected among households earning around $80,000 per year.

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