Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Book Reviews -- Working Wives and Dual-Earner Families by Rose M. Rubin and Bobye J. Riney

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Book Reviews -- Working Wives and Dual-Earner Families by Rose M. Rubin and Bobye J. Riney

Article excerpt

Working Wives and Dual-Earner Families. Rose M. Rubin & Bobye J. Riney. Westport, CT: Praeger. 1993. 176 pp. ISBN 0-275-94682-7. $49.95 cloth.

In this book, Rose Rubin and Bobye Riney aim to provide the first comprehensive analysis of the economic effects of married women's labor force participation. They examine the causes of wives' increasing labor force participation and the effects of wives' employment on family incomes, assets, and expenditures, and on the distribution of income.

Although men's real earnings remained flat in the 1970s and 1980s, dual-earner families improved their standard of living while single-earner families experienced a decline. These trends contributed to a significant increase in wives' labor force participation rates and to growing inequality in household income. By 1992, 60% of all married-couple families were dual-earner families, compared with only 43 in 1967. Dual-earner families are twice as likely as the average household to be in the top income quintile.

Rubin and Riney argue that government policies have failed to adjust to these trends, and continue to favor single-earner families. Tax reform legislation in 1969 and 1986 created a marriage penalty for dual-earner families with high incomes, particularly when the husband's and wife's incomes are approximately equal. Similarly, because the Social Security benefits of most married working women are based on their husbands' earnings, their contributions subsidize the benefits received by single-earner families.

One of the most interesting analyses in the book examines the net contributions of wives' employment to family income. …

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