Married Dads Whose Wives Don’t Work Make More Money

Want to earn more dough? Arrange to be a man, get married to a woman, have a kid — and then ask your wife to stay home. According to a paper in American Sociological Review, you’ll be making bank in no time. (If bank is defined as 4 percent more money, which in the post-recession age, it kind of is.)

The paper, called “A Reconsideration of the Fatherhood Premium: Marriage, Coresidence, Biology, and the Wages of Fathers,” examined 30-plus years of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, and found that married fathers who live with their biological children and have wives who don’t work — or who work less than full-time — made 4 percent more than other fathers, including dads who don’t live with their kids, dads whose kids aren’t biologically theirs (e.g. stepchildren), and dads whose wives worked as much as they did.

The difference could be attributed to several factors:

1. More pressure.

Author Alexandra Killewald tells Alexis Coe of The Atlantic that married dads may work harder, because they feel that their family’s well-being hinges on their success.

“Families who are committed to having a mom who stays at home with a kid may make the man feel even more pressure to provide as a father and husband,” says Killewald.

2. More time.

Interestingly, the research did not find that these dads spent less time at home, as you might expect of the sole wage earner. Instead, dads who enjoyed this “fatherhood premium” reported spending more time with their kids than other dads.

3. Higher rewards for “doing what they’re supposed to do.”

Fathers who fit the nuclear family mold may receive unconscious goodwill from their employers — or at least, the absence of punishment suffered by dads who don’t adhere to the Norman Rockwell picture of fatherhood. However, Killewald told Coe that “more research on employer discrimination against men who violate the normative expectations is still needed” before she would conclude that this is definitely a factor.

Of course, none of this data makes a difference if you are a single parent, a parent in a same-sex relationship, or a parent in a relationship in which both partners are able to and want to work. (Not to mention the fact that two working spouses adds up to a lot more cash than one working spouse making 4 percent more per year.) But if you’re looking for an explanation for the raises Dad had gotten since he became the sole breadwinner, the answer is hard work, luck — and possibly some of the above factors.

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