, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 523–535

Wives who outearn their husbands: A transitory or persistent phenomenon for couples?


  • Anne E. Winkler
    • Department of EconomicsUniversity of Missouri-St. Louis
  • Timothy D. McBride
    • School of Public HealthSt. Louis University
  • Courtney Andrews
    • School of Public HealthSt. Louis University

DOI: 10.1353/dem.2005.0028

Cite this article as:
Winkler, A.E., McBride, T.D. & Andrews, C. Demography (2005) 42: 523. doi:10.1353/dem.2005.0028


In what percentage of married couples do wives outearn their husbands, and, moreover, how persistent are these patterns? This study systematically examined variation in point-in-time estimates across alternative measures of earnings, definitions of types of couples, and data sources and gauged the persistence of these patterns for a period of three calendar years using data from the 2000 Current Population Survey and the 1996–2000 Survey of Income and Program Participation. Among the findings are that in 19% to 30% of all married couples, wives have higher earnings than their husbands. In 60% of such couples, this arrangement persists over the three-year period; for the rest, this arrangement is transitory.

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© Population Association of America 2005