Female breadwinning podcast chat with Gigi Foster

UNSW Economics Professor Gigi Foster, who you may know from her appearances on ABC’s Q&A and The Economists podcast, has done some fascinating research on the phenomenon of female breadwinning, whereby, in around one-in-four partnerships, the female earns more than the male (e.g. see Does Female Breadwinning Make Partnerships Less Healthy or Less Stable?). In Australia and the US, female breadwinning increases the risk of an unhappy relationship, possibly because it is a blow to the male ego. Furthermore, in the US, female breadwinning increases the likelihood of relationship dissolution among young co-habiting couples. This appears to be because some young women think that, if their partner earns less than they do, they could do much better. Ultimately, people try to find partners that are at (or above) their level, so to speak, and income is one characteristic among others (e.g. physical attractiveness, sense of humour, conversational ability, etc.) that are relevant.

I spoke with Gigi about her research earlier this week and our conversation is now available as the latest episode of my Economics Explored podcast. Please check it out for some great insights into female breadwinning and also into the gender pay gap.

Finally, I should note that, disturbingly, in Australia, it also appears that female breadwinning is associated with a greater risk of domestic violence, according to new research from ANU’s Bob Breunig and Yinjunjie Zhang, research which Gigi mentioned in my conversation with her (see Women are more likely to experience domestic violence when they out-earn their partner).

Please feel free to comment below. Alternatively, you can email comments, questions, suggestions, or hot tips to contact@queenslandeconomywatch.com

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2 Responses to Female breadwinning podcast chat with Gigi Foster

  1. Katrina Drake says:

    That is a very strange argument you are putting forward Gene. Reads like text-book victim blaming. Because a women has a higher education and earns more, she is responsible for any domestic violence targeted against her.

    Do not confuse correlation with causation.

    Your argument would imply that the gender pay gap, where women earn less than men across all industries, is actually for the benefit of women, by keeping women poorer and thus safer from domestic violence.

    Risk factors for domestic violence are Alcohol and drug use, Child abuse, Pregnancy and separation, attitudes to violence against women.

    Perhaps men in a partnership where the women earns more, simply spend more of their disposable income on alcohol and drugs.

    Also women who have focussed on education and career when younger, have fewer and less desirable partners to chose from when they decide to partner later in life.

    Alcohol and drugs place a very heavy burden on our society. I have always felt that people should have a drivers licence incorporating an alcohol licence. Where you can lose points for alcohol related dis-orders, and loose your licence to consume alcohol when you accumulate de-merit points.

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Hi Katrina, thanks for the comment. I’m definitely not victim blaming or confusing correlation with causation. I raised the point about alcohol and drugs in my conversation with Gigi.

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