Husbands are happier when their wives earn less, UK study says

Researchers found husbands who earn less than their wives were more miserable than those who got a higher salary

Men are happier when they earn more than their wives, according to a recent research. Getty Images
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Husbands are happier when their wives earn less than they do, according to recent research from the UK.

Men who earned either more or the same as their wives reported "dissatisfaction rates" of 11 per cent, said researchers at City, University of London, who carried out the study.

Those who had lower salaries than their wives were more likely to be miserable, with almost a fifth, 18 per cent, saying they were dissatisfied.

Women received no such ego boost, even if they were the breadwinner in the marriage.

Researchers said the results suggest men "appear to need to be the bigger earners in a marriage".

“Men exhibit an increase in life satisfaction in response to a recent increase in their proportional earnings relative to their wives’ earnings,” the report said.

“For women, changes in proportional earnings had no effect on life satisfaction.

“We also find secondary-earning husbands (who earn less than their wives) report lower average life satisfaction than majority-earning and equal-earning men, while such differences were not found for women.”

The findings came from analysis of the annual UK Household Longitudinal Study between 2009 and 2017.

Married men’s earnings accounted for 60 per cent of the total household income on average over the course of the study, while women’s earnings accounted for 32 per cent on average.

Only 8 per cent of women were majority earners, defined as contributing 60 per cent or more of total household income.

HR consultant Claire Donnelly is working on a large project while her husband takes over the running of the household. Antonie Robertson / The National

“Am I surprised? No, but disappointed? Yes,” said Claire Donnelly, who co-runs human resources and business consultancy MHC in the UAE.

“It’s funny because I was thinking about this the last couple of months. There are quite a few couples I know where the wife is the breadwinner and the man has taken a step back."

Ms Donnelly is in a similar position, working on a large project around the clock while her husband runsthe household.

“My husband is picking up everything in terms of the house. We always shared it, but he’s now taken on everything,” she said.

“And it’s interesting the way people react to that, to say: 'Oh it’s only temporary or whatever'. He’s cool with it. It’s just other people’s reactions to it.

“I wonder if that could be playing a role, whether they don’t mind, but they have to deal with everyone else’s attitudes to it.”

The UAE passed a law in September that guarantees equal pay for men and women in the private sector.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, called it a “crucial step in safeguarding gender balance in the Emirates”.

The law states "women shall be granted a wage similar to that of a man if she performs the same work, or another of equal value".

The amended directive updated a 1980 federal law that aims to encourage more women to join the private sector.

The UAE has made significant strides to promote gender equality in recent years.

In December 2018, President Sheikh Khalifa passed a decree to ensure Emirati women occupy 50 per cent of the country's Federal National Council.