A recent study by Statistics Canada of dual income households found that 1/3 of women married or living common law earned more than their husbands in 2003. This was up from 11 % in 1967.
Women who earned more than their husbands however did not make as much as men who were the primary earners ($41,200 compared with $57,800). 30% of primary earner women had a university degree compared with 25% of primary earner men and 21% of secondary earner women.
That 1/3 of women in dual income families are the larger income earner is a phenomenon of urbanization — city life. And urbanization is part of the transformation of the economy from one based more on resource extraction or manufacturing to one based on services, broadly defined (which includes much of the knowledge economy). The service economy takes place in cities.
City culture levels the playing field between men and women in their careers, arguably. First, knowledge based jobs require creative thought, multi-tasking, organizational skills, communications proficiency and even team building — things women tend to be good at (not necessarily superior to men — that’s another argument — but at least on an equal playing field). Second, cities allow for more economic specialization — food preparation, house cleaning, and some child care can be done by someone other than a family member. Third, if so chosen, families can live in townhouses or condominiums that require less maintenance than a house.
All of this suggests that the trend toward women’s earnings approaching those of their husbands will continue.