Reassessing the Relationship between Wives’ Relative Income in the Household and Marital Quality: The Role of Gender Ideology

Ozcan Tunalilar, University of Florida

Previous research regarding the effects of wives’ share of household income on marital quality presents contradictory findings. Using data on wives and their husbands’ from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979-2010 (n=2528), I reexamine the relationship between wives’ relative income and marital quality in first marriages using fixed effects models. Controlling for family’s economic situation, characteristics of the family, wife’s and husband’s labor force participation and period effects, wives’ relative income is positively related to marital quality when wives’ income share remains between 10-80%. However, the effect reverses when the income share falls below 10% and exceeds 80%. The direction of the effect also depends on women’s view of traditional family-gender roles. Wives who have normative family-gender attitudes report lower levels of marital quality as their percent income increase. On the contrary, wives with nontraditional attitudes actually report higher marital quality when they earn a higher share of income.

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Presented in Poster Session 5