Today I had an argument with a colleague. We argued about the chances that iI would marry a woman who makes more money than I do. In as much as I did admit that I would be okay with such an eventuality, I am not persuaded I would. I would only be okay with such an eventuality as I am inherently very competitive and would view this as an opportunity to compete and conquer and that I would be frustrated with the length of time it would take. Similarly, I am not convinced there are many ladies okay with any money/income related competition and therefore feel I might not be prepared for a companion with a larger paycheck. Additionally, one of the fastest ways to grow income has always been to switch jobs and industries and after a few jumps, prospective employers are averse to high employee turnovers.

Curiosity led me to investigate the proportion of men married to companions with bigger paychecks and started off by reading World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap 2014 report in which Kenya is ranked 37th with a score of 0.7258 world wide in terms of gender parity. the ratio 0.7258 is the relative access to certain indices of females to males. It is an average of the ratios calculated for indices that include Economic, participation and opportunity where Kenya is ranked 9th with a score of 0.8104, educational attainment where Kenya is ranked 115th with a score of .9229, health and survival where Kenya is ranked 80th with a score of .9730 and political empowerment where Kenya is ranked 48th with a score of 0.1969. It is immediately obvious that more action is required to ensure women have more equal opportunities to men in politics. I score of 0.9229 might appear high for educational attainment but a rank of 115th shows how far behind our peers we fall as a country. This is also true for health and survival.

Economic, participation and opportunity

WEF details the source of this ratio as:

The Economic, participation and opportunity subindex contains three concepts: the participation gap, the remuneration gap and the advancement gap. The participation gap is captured using the difference between women and men in labour force participation rates. The remuneration gap is captured through a hard data indicator (ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income) and a qualitative variable gathered through the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey (wage equality for similar
work). Finally, the gap between the advancement of women and men is captured through two hard data statistics (the ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers, and the ratio of women to men among technical and professional workers).

A very good resource for data on the pay-gap within marriages is < href="https://www.opendata.go.ke/Population/2014-Kenya-Demographic-and-Health-Survey/akqq-i5vn">2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey which details the proportion of women who earn more, less and about the same as their husbands.
Data shows that majority of married women earn less than their husbands and that as age increases the proportion of women who earn more than their spouses increases. Additionally, the proportion of women earning less than their husbands reduces as age increases. However, the proportion of husbands with with no earnings more than doubles from 1.3 per cent to 3.7 per cent.

Similarly, the number of children has an influence in the proportion of women who earn more than their spouses such that the higher the number of children a woman has the more likely she is to earn more than her husband. Generally, more men earn more than their wives.

Families living in urban areas have fewer women earning less than their husbands than those in rural areas. Furthermore, more women in urban areas than rural areas earn about the same as their husbands.

Considering the former provinces, more women in North Eastern province than anywhere else earn more than their Husbands while the most number of women in Nairobi than anywhere else earn less than their Husbands.

Surprisingly, the more education a woman has, the less likely she is to earn equal or more than her husband. Additionally, women with more education tend to have husbands with some form of earnings given that the proportion of husbands with no earnings reduces as the education level of the wife increases.

Finally, the higher the wealth quintile the more likely that the woman will earn less than their spouse. As discovered earlier, the proportion of men without earnings reduces as wealth increases. The most percentage of women who earn more than their husbands are in the lowest wealth quintile.

Do Women Marry For Money?

The data in the survey shows that majority of women are married to men who have larger paychecks and thus we can infer that this might be true. A major caveat is that it is not easy to tell from the data if the wealth was acquired by the men before they got married or after they got married. Similarly, it might be a catchy heading to state that women marry for money but without a peer reviewed statistically study to back this up i am afraid we can’t be certain.

Dr Catherine Hakim of the London School of Economics in her report that used UK data and was published by the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank claims more women are choosing to ‘marry up’ by picking wealthy men for their spouse than in the 1940s. Additionally, said men dominate the top positions because women do not want careers in business.
So to answer the question above I can say there’s a high probability that women marry for money.

Marriage Pay-gap: Do men marry women with larger paychecks?

Prestone Adie


I drive Data Analytics where I surface stories from data that might not be immediately obvious. With a background in Actuarial Science I'm proficient in R and Python for data analysis and takes avid interest in anything data. Find me on twitter Follow @AdiePrestone where we can talk data, street food, cars and books.


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