One-Earner vs Two-Earner Couples – Sociology Class Essay
Question: When couples change from being one-earner couples to being two-earner couples, what are the positive and negative consequences for them? When couples go from being one-earner couples to being two-earner couples many changes take place.
There are many positive consequences that occur. The most obvious positive consequence is that they will probably have more money as a couple and thus can afford a better lifestyle for themselves and possibly their children. Both partners in a two-earner couple are bringing in money, so that they are more equal in that respect in the relationship, as opposed to one-earner couples where one partner can easily become dependant on the other for money.
That being said, the textbook clearly states that “even among two-earner couples, the majority consider providing financially to be the husband’s main role; the unpaid work of family caregiving is the wife’s principal obligation.”
Many people think of two-earner marriages as being more exciting, as both partners have a place in the outside world and both are subject to raises, job transfers, promotions, and other positives that go with being employed in the labor force. The two-earner couple puts an end to the traditional roles of the male breadwinner and the female housewife. This means the husband no longer makes or breaks the family economically and relieves a lot of that pressure from him. The wife on the other hand is not dependent on the husband financially and thus is not as tied to him if he turns out to not be right for her for whatever reason.
There are also many negative consequences for two-earner couples. Probably the most talked about would be that if the couple decides to have children, then they have to find good child care, since neither partner will be able to care for the children while they are both at work. The two-earner marriage also means that there will be less time for the couple to do unpaid housework, whereas before one partners would not have a job in the labor force and could spend more time doing housework.
As stated before, the two-earner couple also means an end to the traditional roles of the male provider and the female housewife. Rewards for men in the good provider role according to the textbook “included social status and reinforcements of the husband’s authority over the family.” These of course are lessened or perhaps lost with the two-earner couple. Rewards for the female in the housewife role included not working in the labor force and having the time needed to care for their children themselves. These rewards are both lost with the two-earner couple.
Also because both partners are employed in the labor force, they both bring home the stresses that go along with that, such as possible termination from employment, arguments with coworkers, discrimination, disappointment, etc. The female partner may bring home more stress as a result of this, since women are still very discriminated against and are often underpaid, especially compared to men, in the United States labor force.