In marriages where the wife earns more than her husband there is a greater likelihood of divorce, moreover she is more likely to be unhappy.

Academics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the National University of Singapore have taken a closer look at the accepted social norm that a husband should earn more money than his wife. Their research reveals that this expectation has a wide-ranging impact, from how much a married woman should work outside the home, to marriage rates, to housework.

“Women who deviate from that norm pay a social price,” they add.

Marianne Bertrand, a professor of economics at Chicago Booth and Booth colleague Emir Kamenica, an associate professor of economics with Jessica Pan, an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore looked at data from 4,000 married couples.

They found that where the wife earned more than her husband the couple were less likely to describe themselves as happily married. Husbands and wives were 8 percentage points more likely to report marital troubles over the past year and 6 percentage points more likely to have discussed separation over the same time frame. Furthermore where the wife earned more than her spouse the likelihood of divorce increased by 50 per cent.

“When a woman does work outside of the home, she may end up working less in order to appear less threatening to her husband,” says Prof Bertrand.

The working paper “Gender identity and relative income within households” says that when women opt for less demanding and lower paid jobs or work part-time this then “distorts labour market outcomes”.

Those women that do earn more than their husbands and therefore might appear more threatening tend to do more of the housework add the writers.

“We find that the (reverse) gender gap in non-market work is greater when wives earn more than their husband,” the writers conclude.

● Want to be a successful leader? Then stop micromanaging and trust your employees to do their jobs.

Keith Murnighan, a professor of management at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University believes that the most successful managers are the ones that delegate almost all regular work to their staff, allowing them as leaders the time to organise everyone’s performance.

“Most leaders do too much,” says Prof Murnighan, adding that when they do they are considered to be micromanagers.

In his book Do Nothing! How to stop overmanaging and become a great leader Prof Murnighan advises leaders to trust their employees and ask them to do more. He also urges leaders to walk the floor and ask their employees two questions – “How are you” and “Is there anything I can do to make your job easier?”

These questions he says indicate that the leader cares about the employee and also whether he or she is performing well.

“If you feel that the chief executive cares about you, you’re going to be more motivated to perform,” he adds.

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