This brief examines married and single women’s contributions to family income using Current Population Survey data for 2000 and 2013. Women’s contributions to family income are essential for most families. This is obviously true for the growing number of single-mother families, but increasingly so for married couple families. While dual-earner families are doing relatively well, family income overall has been stagnant or decreasing among single-earner families, resulting in a widening income gap. Author Kristin Smith reports that of different family types, married couples in which the husband was the primary earner had the highest median family income in 2013 ($101,000), followed closely by married couples in which both spouses had similar earnings ($98,000). In contrast, single mothers with children had the lowest median family income ($30,000). In addition, from 2000 to 2013, the proportion of women in husband primary-earner families decreased from 22 percent to 16 percent. This decline is due in part to delayed marriage but also to shifts in women’s breadwinning patterns.

Publication Date

Summer 6-30-2015


National Issue Brief No. 84


Durham, N.H. : Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire

Document Type



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