Over half of women are the primary breadwinners in their households, a survey released Wednesday by Prudential found. Rather than indicating better work opportunities, though, the survey found women are assuming this role as a result of their husbands and partners losing their jobs.
“Unfortunately, this increase is not the result of making more money, but the crisis is forcing women into this role,” Joan Cleveland, vice president of business development for Prudential, told reporters attending a panel on the survey findings. “Many were thrust into this position because their spouse lost their job.”
Fifty-three percent of women, including single and divorced women, are the top earners in their family, including 22% of married and partnered women. Of the female breadwinners, 30% said they earned more than their partners because of the economy. The same percentage said there had been a job loss in their household.
Despite many women being the higher earner in their families, they are not necessarily the primary decision maker. Just 20% of those breadwinners say they’re well-prepared to make financial decisions, compared with 45% of male breadwinners.
Among married women, 35% say they share decision-making responsibilities with their husband, and 19% “take control” of financial decisions. By comparison, 21% of men say they share decision-making responsibilities equally with their spouse, and 38% take control.
An SEI Quick Poll released July 9 found that although an “overwhelming majority” of respondents were happy with the way financial decisions were made in their family, female respondents who said they were the primary earners in their families were more likely than men to feel tension from their partners regarding financial decisions.
Another key point to emerge from the survey is that women’s confidence gap has been widening since 2000. While 38% of women are confident about the economy over the next 12 months, Cleveland said, that’s down from 55% two years ago.