A study conducted by the Pew Research Center was discussed on USA Today to show how men are beginning to benefit from marriage because women make more money than they used to. This article mentioned factors such as women's wages rising 44% over a time frame when men's rose only 6%, and women's higher rate of education as factors for why men benefit from marriage now (as though they didn't before). This research was cited on a local radio station today.
This article fails to mention that women still only make 71 cents on a man's dollar in Canada, much better than 50 years ago, but down from 72 cents in the mid-1990s.
Another slight oversight is the many ways in which men have benefited (currently and historically) from the unpaid work that women do in the home. According to many studies, women still do two thirds of the work in the home, even when both she and her husband work outside the home. Historically, men were only able to work because women took care of the children and the housework, thereby producing and reproducing workers.
The article's first line is "If you think women still reap more economic benefit than men do from marriage, you may be living in the past." This assumes that I think women benefit more from marriage than men, which I do not- and remarriage rates support this theory. It would be difficult to question women's dependence on men for economic survival, especially at times when women were not expected to work outside the home, but I think the amount that men have gained from having an unpaid worker in the house needs to be stated. This research also doesn't explain why single mothers and widowed women are by far the poorest groups in the country. If marriage were as important economically to men as it is to women, would they not have equal rates of poverty when not married?
The question shouldn't be "who has the most education" or "who makes the most money" or even "who spends the most" all of which are mentioned in the article. Here are some suggested questions that I believe could better be used to study equality within marriage:
Why is it that even with higher rates of post-secondary education, women make less money than men? And I don't mean falling back on human capital theory or biological determinist arguments.
How is it that we continue to allow unpaid childrearing and domestic labour to remain invisible? And what impact does this have on women's wages?
Are these figures specific to certain groups? For example, do these trends hold across various ethnic groups and social classes within the population? And how do non-heterosexual couples factor in to this type of study?
Are arguments such as these being used to tell women to sit down and shut up because we've never had it so good?
And why have I never heard it argued that historically (or in other countries) men have it much worse than men in contemporary western society, so they should be grateful for what they have?