September 22, 2008
Traditionalist Men Make More Money

Old fashioned guys bring home more cash.

WASHINGTON When it comes to sex roles in society, what you think may affect what you earn. A new study has found that men who believe in traditional roles for women earn more money than men who don't, and women with more egalitarian views don't make much more than women with a more traditional outlook.

I can see a few reasons for this result. First off, traditionally minded guys might have more testosterone and basically be more driven than modern egalitarian guys. Second, a traditionally minded guy is going to think his job is bread-winning. He'll work longer at work and less at home because he feels a stronger obligation to bring home the bacon. Even if the wife works he's going to see that as more optional.

Of course, the obligation to be the breadwinner might itself be at least partially biologically caused.

There's another possibility: guys who didn't feel confident at being successful embraced the equal partnership idea between husband and wife in order to lessen their feeling of being unable to fulfill their work obligations. Guys who can't make the grade might be more inclined to rationalize that the grade isn't worth making.

Of course, none of my speculations are politically correct explanations since they don't involve sexual discrimination. But what I see around me in the men and women I meet through work are men and women juggling home and work obligations with the men tending to feel far more often than the women that they've got to come down on the side of giving their all to work. I know men who don't feel that obligation and women who do. But on average I see more work mania in men than women.

Timothy Judge, PhD, and Beth Livingston from the University of Florida, analyzed data from a nationally representative study of men and women who were interviewed four times between 1979 and 2005. A total of 12,686 people, ages 14 to 22 at the beginning of the study, participated; there was a 60 percent retention rate over the course of the study. Results were published in the September issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association.

At each of the four interviews, participants were asked about their views on gender roles in the work force and at home. They answered questions such as whether they believed a woman's place is in the home, whether employing wives leads to more juvenile delinquency, if a man should be the achiever outside the home and if the woman should take care of the home and family. Participants were also asked about their earnings, religious upbringing, education, whether they worked outside the home and their marital status, in addition to other topics. Prior studies have shown that men tend to hold more traditional gender roles than do women, though this gap has narrowed over time.

The researchers looked specifically at gender role views as a predictor of a person's earnings. They controlled for job complexity, number of hours worked and education. Their analyses showed that men in the study who said they had more traditional gender role attitudes made an average of about $8,500 more annually than those who had less traditional attitudes.

Marriage and children both increase the odds that male scientists will advance in their careers. Got the wife and kids to support. Gotta work harder. Women are more likely than men to take off from work when a child is sick. Does anyone find that the least bit surprising? Warren Farrell says women who make more work decisions like men make more money. Farrell also says a larger percentage of men than women say that money is their primary motivator at work.

What I want to know: what instincts cause this difference? Are men more driven to compete or more driven to fulfill obligations? Are both instincts responsible for the longer hours worked by men and by the choices that drive them more toward job choices that have higher pay? Are still other drives the cause? The greater male desire for performance-related pay suggests testosterone is the biggest cause.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 September 22 10:18 PM  Brain Economics

Mark Plus said at September 23, 2008 8:50 AM:

And people wonder why the TV series "Mad Men," about competitive sexist ad men in the early 1960's, has become such a hit in our era of political correctness.

black sea said at September 26, 2008 11:05 PM:

Certainly, in my experience, having to support a family has had a positive effect on my career. I've never been and never will be a big money earner, but as a single person, I could, without a great deal of effort, make enough money to meet my living expenses (I'm somewhat austere by nature) and put something away for the future.

A stay at home wife with kids changes that equation dramatically. You start thinking about life insurance, getting your kids into a good (read "expensive") school district, or paying for private school, with university expenses to follow. It's a stressful transition, or at least it was for me, but it pushed me (I'm lazy by nature) to take my work and my compensation more seriously, and I'm now much happier with where I am and what I'm doing than I was eight years ago. And now that my wife has re-entered the workforce, our family is in a much better position overall.

If I'd been married to a corporate lawyer or someone similar, I probably wouldn't have felt the same pressure to "grow up." Using myself as an example, I suspect that men in the past grew up quicker because they had to, not because they wanted to. Still, they were probably more satisfied as a result. Life can be that way.

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