runs household

Who runs the household in 2017?

Who brings home the bacon in your house? Over 50 per cent of women identify as the main income earner of their household. This is up from 39 per cent in 2006, according to data from a 2016 Roy Morgan survey regarding gender parity in the workforce. With 52 per cent of women being the main breadwinners in their households, Australia is ahead of the curve when compared to other countries.

The US reports 42 per cent of women were in the top earning position in their house (from the Center of American Progress, Dec 2016) while the UK claims 40 per cent (a report from Aegon, Oct 2016). While both of these numbers are on the rise, they don’t show as much progress as we’re seeing here in Australia.

Rise of the female breadwinner

Not all households are the same and this study accounted for different types of living situations. For couples without children, 57 per cent of women are the primary earners. This increased from just 37 per cent in 2006, a pretty drastic climb to take place within a decade.

Breadwinning women who live with a partner and have kids at home have increased from 19 to 33 per cent from 2006 to 2016, another considerable increase meaning that instead of 1 in 5 women putting food on the table, it’s now 1 in 3. Almost all single female parents consider themselves the main earner at 95 per cent (up from 91 in 2006). While this isn’t a huge rise, it should be noted that 91 per cent was a pretty big chunk in the first place – and single parents do tend to carry greater financial responsibility simply by the nature of their living situation.

While the last decade has seemingly provided a platform for women to attain comparative financial independence, it’s still worth noting there is a sizeable difference in income between women and men. In 2006 women’s average income was 73 per cent of that for men, yet over the last decade it has increased to 84 per cent. While the gap still exists, at least it’s on the way towards closing.

House Boss

As the fiscal responsibility is being shared (with what we hope is exponential frequency), so to is the role of “s/he who wears the pants.” A 2015 study from the National Finance Literacy Strategy outlined how women are frequently taking the reigns of household finances. From saving and budgeting, to managing credit card spending and monitoring interest rates where home loans are part of the budget.

This points to a pretty even spread between women and men in terms of financial management in the house. While the number of men who look after the finances has seen only the slightest increase (73 per cent to 74 over the ten year period), women are on the up and up.

Decline of the male breadwinner?

The Roy Morgan study saw little change in the number of men identifying themselves as the primary breadwinner between 2006 and 2016. In some cases, it would appear that both male and female parties consider themselves breadwinner for the same house. It’s difficult to tell whether men identified in this way due traditional family values, or whether women responded in a way that reflected the job they want rather than the one they have.

The most pragmatic view to take of these results would be that of a shared responsibility. Perhaps, in 2017 many couples have avoided the notions of traditional gender roles in order to run their household as a unit. While the number of women managing their family’s finance as well as their average income still approaching that of their male equivalents – only time can really tell. In the meantime, it looks like a team effort is the best way forward.

Male breadwinners might want to prepare for a paradigm shift. Whatever your gender or income, Beyond Bank is always prepared to help with your household finances.



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