10/20/2007

Are Husbands Really Like Potatoes?

Women today are making more of their own money and are relying less on men for financial support than at any other time in history. With this large increase in women’s income, economists are now trying to figure out whether or not the demand has increased or decreased for husbands. Thus, they are trying to figure out whether husbands are normal or inferior goods. Though most women would state that they think that husbands, and men in general, are inferior goods, this article states that they are actually normal goods. Who would have thought?

5 comments:

Logan said...

It would be interesting to turn the tables and analyze if wives are normal or inferior goods as well. Perhaps marriage itself as an institution should be the topic, not wives or husbands.

With the rise of divorce and single mother household incomes, it is no wonder that women are earning more money that ever before. The true phenomenon would be why are less people getting married and staying married.

It is said that half of today's marriages will end in divorce. That may be true, but that doesn't mean half of society is divorced. It has been proven that if you have been divorced before, you are more likely to be divorced again. I personally know 5 ladies that have been divorced 5+ times each. That means that there are at least 25 other ladies out there that are still happily married for the 50% divorce rate to be true. So between 30 women that I know, 83% of them are happily married, not 50%.

So it appears that the demand for husbands has actually increased in my example since 5 women went through at least 25 of them. The supply remains relatively constant, and with the demand increasing, the price increases as well. Eventually, the price gets too high and women leave the market. That sounds like a normal good to me.

Dr. Tufte said...

Ooh ... now this is a cool subject to get students thinking.

If I can turn the tables a little bit, I think it is much easier to recognize that wives appear to be a normal good. Sociologically, it is very common to argue that women are looking for good providers. But, men can and do avoid commitment, so I wonder if at its heart this is just a backhanded way of saying that women entrap men. I don't think so. The fact that richer men are more likely to marry leaves open the possibility that we can explain this with wives as normal goods. High school experience tends to confirm this: boys get jobs to get money for cars, girls, and dates. Do we really think men are any different?

There's also an investment perspective to think about. It is well-known that stable marriage is one of the keys to getting wealthier. Marriage is an investment, and investment goods like stocks, bonds and real estate tend to be normal goods too.

Gavin said...

Extra Credit - Dr. Tufte
Marriage is an investment, and a stable one is key to getting wealthy. This is confusing, shouldn't we be comparing relationships, that is stable relationships? Why would a hard working woman want a loser husband? I think as a woman's income level rises she does not want inferior goods(man), she wants a normal good (man).

William said...

Dr. Tufte,
I feel that there has been a major shift in women working due to women gaining freedom in the 1970's. I know that women in my family strongly adhere to working and being independent so that they do not have to depend on having to get married so that a man can provide for them. My grandma has told me numerous times that if she could have divorced my grandpa she would have but because lack of education and being able to provide for her children she dealt with the hard life.
I think women now are finding themselves and are no longer depending on men to live off of.

Dr. Tufte said...

I'm confused by both comments.

The measurement of income elasticity is something you do across the set of units of a good.

But ... what both Gavin and William seem to be writing about is the perspective of individual units.

Both are OK, but the comments really aren't about income elasticity.