Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Back to the 1950s: One Explanation for the Election

If there is any explanation for this year's election result, it may be this: the rising economic power of women and resistance by men (and women) who want to go back to the way things used to be. The nostalgic are legion. According to PRRI's 2016 American Values Survey, the 51 percent majority of the public thinks American culture and way of life have mostly changed for the worse since the 1950s—including 56 percent of whites, 57 percent of people aged 65 or older, and 68 percent of Republicans. One of the defining characteristics of the 1950s, of course, was women's economic dependence on men. Today, men are increasingly dependent on women, as documented in these income trends since 2000...

  • Even before the Great Recession, men's incomes were on the decline: Men's median income fell 2.7 percent between 2000 and 2007, after adjusting for inflation. Women's median income climbed 8.2 percent during those years. 
  • The Great Recession hurt both men and women: The median income of men and women fell 6 percent between 2007 and 2013.
  • But women are recovering much faster: Women's median income grew three times faster than men's between 2014 and 2015—a 6.8 percent increase for women versus a 2.2 percent increase for men. 
  • Women are gaining relative to men: In 2015, the median income of women was 64 percent as high as the median income of men, up from 57 percent in 2000 and a record high. Among full-time workers, women's median earnings were 80 percent as high as men's in 2015, up from 73 percent in 2000 and a record high. Among dual-income couples, the percentage of wives who earn more than their husbands climbed from 23 percent in 2000 to 29 percent in 2015, just 0.1 percentage point shy of 2013's record high.

According to PRRI's survey, a substantial 47 percent of all men and 32 percent of all women disagree that the country would be better off if we had more women in political office. Among Republicans, fully 62 percent disagree—including the majority of Republican women. A vote against the female presidential candidate was a vote against men's growing economic dependence on women.

Source: PRRI, 2016 American Values Survey, and Census Bureau, Income Data Tables

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