Maximise Earning Potential By Marrying A Slacker

Ambitious women who want to maximise their earning potential have two options: don’t have children or find a low-earning husband.

That’s the conclusion from a new study out of Harvard, “Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors.”

First things first: this is a study of Chicago Booth MBAs who graduated between 1990 and 2006, so we’re talking about overachievers here — the kind of people for whom “low-earning” is below six figures and long hours are the norm — so these results don’t necessarily apply to the population at large.

However, the results suggest that ambitious women who marry and have children with high-earning men tend to either slow down or give up their own careers in order to have a family. The study finds that after having children ,”a women’s annual earnings (including the nonemployed) fall modestly in the year of the first birth, and continue declining over the next several years reaching a $US100k deficit relative to the base period by five years after the birth.”

The way that the study finds that women mitigate this huge pay gap, as Allison Schrager previously wrote, is by having a low-earning spouse (regardless of education level). This doesn’t even mean having a stay-at-home dad — just a dad who doesn’t work 80 hours a week (obviously that’s what I meant by “slacker” above).

The study finds that mothers whose spouses earn more than $US150,000, and probably working a lot of hours for that salary, are responsible for 52% of childcare. Mothers with lower earning spouses do only 32% of the childcare — a difference almost entirely made up for by taking the kids to daycare.

The other way to maximise earnings is to opt out of the baby track. The study finds that women who marry high-earners but don’t have children work a lot more, and therefore earn a lot more.

Of course, the giant caveat here is this is not a post about ideal way to live — or even how the study’s authors think women should live. This is a post about how women can optimise their life to make the most cash. And on that front, ladies, might I suggest marrying a journalist?

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