Men's income disadvantage and life satisfaction among Hungarian couples


  • Gábor Hajdu, Endre Sik



In this paper, we examine the association between intra-household income distribution and subjective well-being. Specifically, we analyse how satisfaction differs according to whether or not an individual’s own income is higher than his/ her partner’s. The analysis is based on the 2015 wave of the Household Budget and Living Conditions Survey, conducted by the Hungarian Central Statistical Office. Our primary sample consists of mixed-gender couple households in which both the woman and the man have income from employment. Our results show that men whose partners earn more than they themselves do are significantly less satisfied than are men who earn more than their partners. Similarly, women who earn more than their partners are significantly less satisfied than are women who earn less. This satisfaction disadvantage is due not only to the fact that a higher female income share may be an indicator of poorer household financial status; it may also be related to the health status and labour-market opportunities of partners (especially men), as these aspects are controlled for by several variables. We interpret the results as an impact of the social norm that “the man should be the main breadwinner in the household”. We also show that the estimated coefficients are higher for the less-educated than for the higher-educated. Since the attitudes of the former are more traditional, these results support the interpretation regarding the importance of the man’s breadwinning role.

Keywords: intra-household income distribution, intra-couple income inequality, satisfaction, gender norms