Liza Mundy is the bestselling author of Michelle: A Biography and Everything Conceivable and is a staff writer at the Washington Post.
Her new book is The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family.
From her Q & A with Marc Schultz at Publishers Weekly:
How did you hit upon this trend?--Marshal Zeringue
I’ve covered gender issues for a long time, 20 years probably, and for the past six or seven I’ve been noticing, peripherally, the growing percentage of women on college and university campuses, which always struck me. I was talking with my editor and she was noticing the earning trend among women was rising. When I started looking into the data, I was struck by the number of women out-earning their partners. There had been a sea change in the past five or six years, which I found intriguing and worth exploring.
What makes it inevitable that the majority of American households will be supported by women, rather than men?
Obviously, this is a point that can be argued, and I’m sure it will be, but if you look at the data—say you look at the percentage of wives out-earning their husbands, that’s been going up steadily since they started tracking in 1997. If women are out-achieving men in colleges and universities, if most American city-dwelling, single, childless women under 30 already out-earn their male peers, what would stop it? I guess it could stop if women said no, this isn’t what we want, but it’s hard for me to see why this would happen.
Another way to look at is specifically at mothers: we know 25 percent of children are in single-mother homes, let’s say another 18 percent are in families where the wife out-earns the husband, we’ve already got 43 percent of homes where the mother is the dominant breadwinner. And for women under 30, a full 50 percent of births are to unwed mothers. So it seems quite easy to argue that...[read on]