Sunday, August 12, 2007

Needing a wife

The NY Times reports:
Married men and women, on average, earn more than those who are unmarried, with part of that possibly attributed to career and wage advancement as workers mature (and are more likely to be married). But the gap is significantly larger for men than for women. Married women make an average 17 percent more than unmarried women, according to 2005 B.L.S. data on the median earnings of full-time workers, while married men make 42 percent more than unmarried men.

A more statistically rigorous analysis published in 2004, using the Minnesota Twins Registry, tried to isolate the effect of marriage on earnings. It found that holding education and genetics constant, married male twins made 26 percent more than their unmarried brothers.

It is not as clear what effect marriage has on women's careers and earnings, but having children is, over all, an impediment. "There's a well-documented motherhood penalty: women with children are paid less than women without children," controlling for other factors, said Mary Blair-Loy, a sociologist and author of "Competing Devotions," a study of executive women who kept working versus ones who discontinued their careers.

Fathers, however, are not similarly disadvantaged and might even benefit at the workplace from being parents, according to more than one study, including one published in March in The American Journal of Sociology.
No, these studies don't control for the other factors. (And no, the "Minnesota Twins" are not baseball players.) Maybe married men make more than single women because women would rather marry a man with a high earnings potential. Or the men work harder to support their families. Or the wives nag their husbands to earn more.

The article suggests that married men get more domestic support from their wives, than working women get from their husbands. But the studies don't distinguish housework that wives to support their husbands, from housework the wives do for their own purposes. The article quotes a husband saying, "I assume most bachelors don’t worry about how clean their houses are." If so, then those men aren't getting much benefit from housecleaning. The wives are doing it for their own satisfaction.

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