Wives' Gains or Husbands' Losses?: Decomposing Changes in Spouses' Relative Earnings over Time

Tara L. Becker, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Recent increases in relative earnings within marriage may in part reflect increases in the proportions of couples that maintain a more egalitarian sharing of work and family responsibilities; however the increase in couples with unconventional earnings relationships may also be reflecting the increasing difficulty of both partners to maintain their standard of living in the face of economic restructuring and change. This study will use data from the 1969-1997 waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to decompose year-to-year changes in relative earnings to determine the relative importance of changes in husband and wife’s earnings in determining how relative earnings within marriage change over time. Because economic changes over the past three decades affected couples unevenly across racial and class lines, the analysis is conducted separately by race, educational attainment, and earnings quartile.

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Presented in Poster Session 7