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Male Relative Income and Its Significance

Male Relative Income and Its Significance

(p.48) 2 Male Relative Income and Its Significance
Birth Quake
Diane J. Macunovich
University of Chicago Press

This chapter investigates the importance of male relative income. It is noted that despite trends toward egalitarian gender-role attitudes and increasing income provision among women, cohabiting men's economic circumstances carry far more weight than women's in marriage formation. Improvements in mothers' relative income may eliminate some of the economic pressure for them to work outside the home, but it would be reckless to presume a mechanical symmetry in relative cohort size effects that leads all the way back to the attitudes of the 1950s just because relative cohort size declines. Underlying preferences regarding women's roles and desired family size do not change as much as current behavior might suggest. The principle of “cognitive dissonance” may tend to bring those underlying preferences more in line with current behavior.

Keywords:   male relative income, egalitarian, marriage, economic pressure, relative cohort size, women, cognitive dissonance

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