Marriages Becoming More Financially Egalitarian

A lot of the commentary I’ve seen on this report seems overblown. But it’s noteworthy that the basic trends are moving in the direction of equality, albeit at a slowish pace:

A larger share of men in 2007, compared with their 1970 counterparts, are married to women whose education and income exceed their own, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of demographic and economic trend data. A larger share of women are married to men with less education and income.

Hopefully this trend will continue. I think it’s all well and good to talk about how men “should” carry more of the load of childrearing or domestic tasks, but realistically concrete power matters a lot. Shifting the balance of income shifts the balance of power and creates a situation where a husband has to do a fair share of the work. What’s more, children who grow up in households where their mother is the main breadwinner will probably grow up with a different set of attitudes and expectations that will have a beneficial effect on the culture in decades to come.

The less happy part of this story, however, is the dramatic slowdown in wages for working class men paired with the fact that American public schools are getting very poor results from low-income boys. Equality is good, but leveling down is not.