Why Americans Still See Men as the ‘Providers’ in a Relationship

Americans still believe men should  be the primary financial provider in a relationship, whereas a woman’s role is to be a good wife or partner, according to Pew Research Center findings.

Men’s role as the main breadwinner was also more important than being caring or contributing to household chores, despite a growing number of women entering the workforce and generating more than half of the family’s earnings. If women are becoming financial equals, why does the country insist on viewing men as the main providers? No. 5 is particularly worrisome.

1. Male-driven households are typically less educated


The old standard puts families at an economic disadvantage.| Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Approximately 81% of the Pew Research study respondents with no education beyond high school felt men should be the main breadwinner. About 72% with some college and 62% who held a four-year college degree felt men should make the money.

Next: Male headed households make less dough.

2. Those who see men as the main breadwinner make less money

Happy family in the park evening light. The lights of a sun. Mom, dad and baby happy walk at sunset. The concept of a happy family.Parents hold the baby's hands.

The idea of a male breadwinner is as much a state of mind as it is anything else. | iStock.com/Lacheev

Lower income families trended toward the stereotype that men should be the primary financial provider. Approximately 41% of families with incomes of less than $30,000 thought men should be bringing in the most bacon, whereas only 23% of families making $75,000 or more thought this should be the case.

Next: Older generations think men should make the most cash. 

3. Americans 65 and older think men should be the primary provider

Seniors playing puzzle

Unsurprisingly, older couples are more traditional. | Imageegaml/iStock/Getty Images

Older generations believe men should be the main earner. Those age 65 or older may hold strong to this notion, when it was less common for women to be in the workforce during the family’s main earning years.

Next: But younger Americans agree too. 

4. Gen Z and younger Millennials still think men should make more money

Couple with dog and pizza

Younger couples believe in equality. | Katie_Martynova/iStock/Getty Images

Surprisingly, Gen Z or young millennials harken back to the notion that men should be the main financial provider. A surprising 64% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 thought men should take the financial head of the household. Why? Some experts suggest the shift is due to the younger generation’s desire to re-establish men as being dominant in business once again.

Next: Divorce is prevalent in families with women who make more money. 

5. Couples worry about divorce when women make more money

Couple sitting on the floor looking upset.

Money disparity leads to bigger problems. | Antonio Guillem/iStock/Getty Images

Some families find a home that is financially powered by a woman is at a greater risk for divorce. Researchers at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business found divorce rates rose for couples where the woman earned more than the man, NPR reports.

Women may overcompensate at home by taking on more housework, so men feel less threatened. Unfortunately, the result is a far more stressful environment, with women leaning on the use anti-anxiety medication and may experience sleep loss.

Next: More non-white Americans see men as head of the household. 

6. Most male heads of the household come from an ethnic background

young Afro American couple

Minority couples tend to be more traditional. | iStock.com/GeorgeRudy

Approximately 84% of African Americans and 78% of Hispanics believe men should be the financial breadwinner. Only about 67% of white Americans think men should be the main financial provider.

Next: The glass ceiling hasn’t broken yet. 

7. The double standard still persists

Working at home is very comfortable

The double standard is very real. | iStock.com/gpointstudio

Although women are viewed as being just as competent to lead at work as men, the glass ceiling remains intact, according to Pew Research. Women continue to be held to a higher standard than men at work and 53% of study participants see men as continuing to hold onto top executive positions.

Despite a narrowing gap, wage inequality is still relevant as women earn 83% of what men earn, according to a 2015 Pew Research study.

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