Dutch women increasingly have a higher income than their husbands

10/04/2014 15:00

Women are increasingly earning more than their partners. In 2002 some 13 percent of Dutch couples aged between 15 and 65 had the woman as their main earner, whereas in 2012 this was the case in 19 percent.

Women in couples without children most often have the higher income

The share of women as the main earner is highest among couples without children living at home.  In 23 percent of these couples the woman had a higher income than her partner in 2012. In 2002 this was  17 percent. The younger the main earner is, the more often she is a woman. For instance, among couples without children where the main earners were between 15 and 35 of age, over 30 percent was a woman in 2012.

Female main earners in couples, both aged 15-65

Female main earners in couples, both aged 15-65

Increase in women as main earners is highest among couples with young children

The fastest growing share of female main earners was among couples of whom the youngest child living at home was underage: from 10 percent in 2002 to 16 percent in 2012. This is because more women continue working the same number of hours after their first child is born. Women are also more often better educated than their male partners.
Among couples with adult children, the share of female main earners rose from 10 to 14 percent.

Couples where the woman works more hours a week than her partner, both aged 15-65

Couples where the woman works more hours a week than her partner, both aged 15-65

Women increasingly work more than their partners

The percentage of female main earners in couples depends on the share of women working more hours than their partners. This share rose from 10 percent in 2002 to more than 12 percent in 2012. The increase was divided equally between couples with and without children, from 7 to 9 and from 15 to 17 percent respectively.
Apart from the increasingly higher education level women have, the situation on the job market is also playing a role. At the start of the crisis in 2009, when unemployment rose faster among men than among women, the share of women who worked more than their partners rose by 1 percent point.

Marion van den Brakel and Martijn Souren