When Men Earn Less Than Their Wives, Couples Tend To Lie About Their Income

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via SIPhotography/Getty Images

Both men and women lie about their income in partnerships where women earn more

In today’s dose of Masculinity Be Fragile, we have the pitiful news that when men earn less than their wives, they tend to fudge the numbers on their paycheck a bit. What’s possibly even sadder? Women tend to fudge their salaries too — in the opposite direction.

Why, ladies? WHY?

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That’s right — when men earn less, they’re liable to inflate their true earnings and when women earn more, they minimize the actual amount of bacon they bring home. According to new research from the U.S. Census Bureau, when comparing income reported to the IRS to income reported on government surveys, both spouses were likely to say the husband earns more than he does and that the wife earns less.

In heterosexual marriages where women earn more, the women reported their income at 1.5 percentage points less than they actually made while their lesser-earning husbands said they earned an average of 2.9 percentage points more than they truly do. The pattern held true regardless of income bracket, race, or age.

What in fragile male nonsense is this shit.

Justin Wolfers, who studies the economics of the family at the University of Michigan, tells The New York Times, “Blokes are threatened by wives who earn more, which surprises nobody but is interesting that you can actually find it in the data.”

In other words, we’ve come a long way as far as women in the workplace and women having high-powered jobs, but when it comes down to it? Gender roles are apparently pretty deeply ingrained, with a Pew Research survey finding that 71 percent of Americans agree that in order to be a good husband, a man must provide financially. Only 32 percent say women need to do the same.

Pathetic though it may be, I can almost understand a man telling a little fib about his own income in compared to his kick-ass wife, but a woman feeling the need to dim her shine in order to make her husband (or society) feel better? What in the fuck? What in the actual fuck?

I don’t earn more than my husband but if I did? I’d be shouting it from the rooftops. OK, maybe not because that’s weird as hell, but I certainly wouldn’t feel the need to hide that incredibly exciting information from anyone that asks. After all, in 69 percent of marriages men actually do make more money (down from 87 percent in 1980) — but considering all women are up against in the workplace as far as retaining their position and earning raises while dealing with maternity leaves and the majority of childcare issues — it’s worthy of a god damn parade when they manage to climb that corporate ladder.

But as long as more than two-thirds of Americans still think in the year of our Lord 2018 that it’s important for a man to be a good breadwinner, we will be dealing with this bullshit male fragility where men lie to themselves and women lie for the sake of men. Sadly, for all our progress, it seems we still have a long ways to go.

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