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Journal Article

Divergent gender revolutions: cohort changes in household financial management across income gradients


Publication date

Apr 2021


The ways in which partners manage their money provide important clues to gender inequality in and the nature of couple relationships. Analyzing data from nationally representative surveys (N = 11,730 couples), I examine changes across British cohorts born between the 1920s and 1990s in their household financial management, and how the changes vary across individuals and couples occupying differential income positions. The results show divergent, nuanced cohort trends toward gender equality in couples’ money management. Across successive cohorts of low-earning women, there has been a subtle relaxation in the form of male control, reflected in a decrease in the proportion of men adopting “back-seat” management by retaining the majority of the couple’s money while delegating the chore of managing daily expenses to their partners. By contrast, the empowerment of high-earning women is primarily reflected in an individualization of financial management, evident in a cohort decrease in joint financial management and an increase in independent management. The trend of individualization is particularly prominent among couples in which both partners have equally high earnings. The findings provide new insights into and important extensions of the theorization of gender relations in and the individualization of couple relationships.

Published in

Gender and Society




Social Change, Households, Income Dynamics, Wages And Earnings, Finance, and Sociology Of Households


Lancaster University EPrints -


Author accepted manuscript, forthcoming in Gender & Society; Open Access; Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial


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