High-earning women

Half Sigma discusses the issue of women making more money than their husbands. I’ve written before that this is the case in my marriage, though we’re both in the top 10% of earners in the country.

It’s common wisdom among game bloggers that you shouldn’t marry a woman who makes more money than you. I disagree with this common piece of wisdom.

The problem with modern marriage is that it too easily leads to divorce. However, if you look at divorce rates, you’ll notice that divorce is very uncommon among the upper class.

Perhaps the best thing on the internet so far this year, is Charles Murray’s lecture on his new book. Steve Sailer provides a nice summary here, but for our purposes, this is the relevant bit:

For example, the being-married rate among upper middle class whites has fallen only trivially from 88% in 1960 to 83% in 2010. Among the bottom 30% [of whites with respect to income], however, the being-married rate has dropped from 83% to 48%.

There’s a blunt way to say what I’m trying to say, and Dennis Mangan comes closest:

All this leads me to wonder – and I don’t have the mathematical or research skills to figure this out myself – how greatly the much-vaunted high divorce rate is skewed by either blacks or the left side of the bell curve or those getting married and divorced multiple times, these categories not being mutually exclusive. It appears that college-educated white (and Asian and Hispanic) people stand a low chance of divorce.

The fact is that if you marry a well-educated woman who does not have a slutty past, divorce is very unlikely.

If you add a little knowledge of game to the equation, you’re even safer.

Plus, the money is really nice.


17 Responses to High-earning women

  1. Handle says:

    If the theory is that the wife will be more tempted to swap out for a man of a more dominant financial position – then statistically, the more money a woman makes, the fewer men she will likely encounter who make significantly more that her and would want to marry her.

    A man of that level of income would have more options on average – and would tend to choose more attractive, younger, and single and childless women, especially since the woman’s income (combined with stress and business at work) wouldn’t be a meaningful positive for him. It’s all about options for meaningful upgrade – and high-earning women don’t necessarily have that many.

    At any rate, the theory is mostly only applicable in instances where difference in income is also a rough proxy for more crucial differences in class, education, capability, etc.

  2. jay says:

    Divorce is more complicated for upper class couples than lower class couples. That might be one reason why it is less common. If a couple doesn’t have any money or property, divorce is easy. Adios, no lawyers and courts are needed to ferret out who gets what.

    When young children are involved, the welfare state makes it easier for poor couples to behave like rich couples would in the same situation. A marriage contract should be of more benefit to poor couples than rich couples, but it doesn’t work out that way.

  3. K(yle) says:

    I imagine a huge driver of divorce is ‘boring marriages’. That is to say people that need constant stimulation and have poor impulse control make poor marriage prospects.

    However, I’m skeptical that the data is that skewed. I know many solidly middle class couples and I can’t think of one that doesn’t consist of both partners having come from an earlier divorce where the couples are past middle-age.

    I haven’t read up much on Murray’s book yet, but I wonder exactly how recent or representative his data is.

    Thinking hard about it the only non-divorced people I know (excluding anyone never married at all) are still young with plenty of time for this to be their ‘starter marriage’.

    Anecdotal and all, but I doubt my perceptions of the non-left end of the bell curve middle class are all that extraordinary.

  4. Fake Herzog says:

    Not one of my college-educated friends from high-school, college, or graduate school is divorced. Some never married and some of the married couples don’t have kids (I’m 42).

    Very few have parents who are divorced. Based on my own experience, Murray’s data makes sense (I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago).

  5. icr says:

    The US DOE appears to have SWAT teams that go after student loan defaulters:

  6. Doug1 says:


    Does your wife work for the Feds as well?

  7. A Lady says:

    There’s no accounting for less marriage in all class tiers. Also, the upper middles having fewer children is hardly optimal for class longevity. They are crumbling too, albeit more slowly than the lower class tiers.

    As for the Af-Am divorce rate, that is due to affirmative action penalizing black male career pursuit at the lower levels of income. It takes a lot of tier-jumping for a black guy to really earn the bucks. And it is quite different to make 50-60k and be stuck choosing from men making 25k than it is to make 300k and choose from men making 150-500k. The tax ramifications alone are horrendous for those unfortunates under 75k or so combined.

    Anyway baby powahs activate instead of any more commenting on this phenomenon!

  8. Sgt. Joe Friday says:

    I wonder if there’s an IQ component here too. Among my friends, there are also very few divorces, and this is a group of people of certainly above average intelligence; offhand, I’d say most are in the 115-120 ballpark. Strangely enough, the most intelligent – including one whose IQ is over 145 – are the ones who’ve had multiple marriages. Boredom perhaps?

  9. K(yle) says:

    Odd indeed, as that doesn’t conform to my experiences at all. Perhaps it’s all about social niches. You are either part of a high divorce group or you are not. Dalrock has posted about contagious divorces before.

    Most of the middle-class people I know I’d only term of average or very slightly above average. Middle managers and high grade union tradesmen, et cetera.
    They’d be right at the apex of the curve if not slightly to the right.

    The only couple I know that seems to be on track to be lasting is my cousin’s, in which I’d rate the husband as high IQ (about +2SD at least).

  10. Ultimately, the woman having a career is a ‘choice’ she can make or not, with few meaningful social or honor/prestige repercussions either way. Ultimately, regardless of whatever lip service some might give trying to pretend otherwise, the man is supposed to, has to have a job.

    This asymmetry is inextricable and has not gone away, nor is likely to. And it means that a woman having too good of a career, or earning too much money, can be bad for the survival of the marriage. I wouldn’t say this is necessarily due to the man being ‘jealous’ or ‘threatened’ so much as, if the woman’s career is too good, there will be pressure for the man’s career to take a back seat (e.g. move cities to accommodate her career not his). If his career is taking a back seat he can’t focus on it or give 100% of what it will take to advance to his capability. And if he can’t do that, he will resent it – because having a career is not a ‘choice’ for him – it is something he has to do, and now her career has stalled his.

    In a certain (man’s) income range there may be a ‘sweet spot’ where the man’s primary reaction will just be ‘the money is really nice’. But beyond that sweet spot, the man will only resent a woman’s career. It is not needed, and it doesn’t relieve him of any duties anyway – it’s not like the man just not having a job is considered a valid choice by any significant # of people. There is a reason that super-rich and very-high-earner males seek ‘traditional’ marriages. There is a reason that most of them have wives who are stay-at-home wives and moms.

  11. “how greatly the much-vaunted high divorce rate is skewed by either blacks or…”

    In his presentation, Charles Murray specifically states that when he added everyone else in (people other than non-hispanic whites), the charts he produced didn’t change much at all.

  12. tenkev says:

    I’m sorry to burst your bubble Foseti. But the inferences you have drawn from that data are incorrect. Here is the data you are looking for:

    Women w/ 100K income have the highest divorce rates.

  13. rxc7v9iobip says:

    Just because a study observes that the upper class divorces less for selfish and monetary reasons doesn’t mean that working women are in a better position. If anything it’s working class women, liberals, libertarians and right-liberals (liberal “conservatives”) whom have ruined marriage. Marriage is just a secular, individualistic, pleasure “institution” now thanks to the members I mentioned previously. Why keep on supporting an institution which is liberal in essence? What is the point seriously? I support homeschooling and being married in a (conservative) church only thank you.

  14. […] Foseti – “Random Thought“, “High-Earning Women” […]

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