Study: Being a Breadwinning Mom Won’t Split Your Family Up

In some cases, families with a high-earning mom are more stable

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Parents are just as likely to stay together whether the mother makes more money than the father or not, a new report says. And in some cases, having a breadwinning mom can make families more stable.

Researchers studied 3,944 British couples during the period their first child was eight months to seven years old. They looked at whether the likelihood of the relationship breaking up was greater if the mother made more money.

Contrary to popular belief, there was no statistically significant difference in the likelihood for divorce. In some cases the researchers even found that relationships were more stable when the mother was the breadwinner. For instance, during the period when a child was four to age seven, the divorce risk among couples where the wife earned the most was 80% lower than couples where the husband earned more.

If parents earned about the same, there was also no greater likelihood in breaking up. “We found that influential theories that a woman’s higher earnings elevate the risk of divorce are unfounded amongst contemporary parents in the UK. Our findings show that equal earning, and a mother being a main earner, are not destabilizing influences on relationships, even at an intense time of childcare responsibilities,” said co-authors Dr Shireen Kanji, of the University of Leicester School of Management, and Dr Pia Schober, of the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin.

Other recent research shows that in the U.S., women are more educated than their husbands, suggesting that the potential for women to earn more than their husbands is a growing trend.

The new research is published in the journal Sociology.