Breadwinning Women Are Making Progress

The percentage of women who earn significantly more than their husbands is growing. Find out more.

Last week brought bad news on the gap between men’s and women’s earnings: It could take 118 years for that gap to close.

But this week brings a silver lining: Women are making progress, according to newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The federal agency reports that, over the past 15 years, the share of married couples in which the wife earned at least $30,000 more than the husband has increased by 3 percent, reaching 9 percent.

On the other hand, the share of married couples in which the husband earned at least $30,000 more than the wife decreased by 3 percent, reaching 35 percent.

Over the same period, the share of husbands and wives whose earnings differ by less than $5,000 also increased, though only by 1 percent, reaching 25 percent this year.

Jamie Lewis, a statistician in the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics Branch, says in a news release:

“This is a noteworthy development, given a broader context of an enduring gender earnings gap.”

Other facts from the data about families and living arrangements that was released by the Census Bureau this week include:

  • The median age at which adults first marry continues to increase. In 1947, it was 24 for men and 21 for women. Today, it is 29 for men and 27 for women.
  • The average household size has decreased from 3.3 people in 1960 to 2.5 people today.
  • The share of children living with two parents has increased slightly, from 68 percent in 2012 to 69 percent this year. This pattern holds for single-race white and Hispanic children but not for single-race black or Asian children.

What’s your take on the gender pay gap? Sound off in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Stacy Johnson

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