The hidden taxes that challenge women

by on March 4, 2018 at 9:45 am in Data Source, Economics, Uncategorized | Permalink

That is the new and excellent Sendhil Mullainathan NYT column, here is one excerpt from many good points:

Corporate success has similar consequences: Women who become chief executives divorce at higher rates than others.

Another study found that the same is true in Hollywood: Winning the best actress Oscar portends a divorce, while winning the best actor award does not.

Of course, the divorce itself may be a preferred outcome, one that is better than enduring a poisonous relationship. Even then, I’d argue that the tax was exacted in the emotional toll and the time lost in a failed marriage.

Men react particularly negatively to their spouses’ relative success. Marianne Bertrand and Emir Kamenica, economists at the University of Chicago, and Jessica Pan, an economist at the National University of Singapore, examined the wages of spouses. Because women generally earn less in the work force, they generally earn less than their husbands, too.

What is more surprising in the data is that it is far more common for the husband to earn just a tiny bit more than the wife than the other way around. The fact that women on average earn less does not account for such a sharp asymmetry.

The piece is interesting throughout.

1 Simonini March 4, 2018 at 9:48 am

Where is the evidence this is driven by men reacting negatively? Isn’t female hypergamy a more relevant factor?


2 William Bromberg March 4, 2018 at 10:12 am

Because you can highlight any difference between the male and female genders as long as you frame it in a way that makes women better.


3 blah March 4, 2018 at 10:46 am

That’s called the Althouse rule, and it is a pity it isn’t as well known as it should be.


4 OneGuy March 4, 2018 at 11:16 am

Headline: “World to end tomorrow, women and minorities affected more”.

The world is made up of people who either see their glass half empty or half full. It would also seem that those who see their glass as half empty want the other side’s half full glass to in their mind make it equal.


5 Dashiel_Bad_Horse March 4, 2018 at 11:54 am

How to be liberal:

1) Say the least prejudiced thing you can think of, even if blatantly asinine.

2) Accuse everyone who disagrees with you of being prejudiced.


6 matt March 4, 2018 at 1:06 pm

It’s true that the data presented doesn’t definitively pin the blame on male resentment. In fact, the more canonical liberal explanation would be that there is some systemic pressure (i.e. the patriarchy). However, it seems a bit odd to complain about ‘glass half empty’ and special pleading when women are the ones earning less. Whatever is skewing those numbers, be it male resentment, female contempt, or something more subtle, it has clear economic costs, borne primarily by high achieving women and their families (though it also disincentivizes economic activity and human capital development more broadly). This seems pretty clearly bad, and pretty clearly worse for women than men.


7 Simonini March 4, 2018 at 2:02 pm

While all else being equal one would like to earn more money, for most people, earning more income requires working harder. Hence you cannot translate income differences directly into welfare differences. This is particularly true in the context of married couples, where the benefits of that extra income in terms of consumption are split with your spouse anyway.


8 VelveteenAmbush March 4, 2018 at 8:21 pm

You’re just begging the question; obviously it’s *not* worse for women than men if in fact women are the ones initiating divorce when they become more successful than their husbands.


9 Anonymous March 4, 2018 at 10:47 pm

I believe women initiate 2/3 of all divorces

10 blah March 4, 2018 at 8:54 pm

Whatever is skewing those numbers, be it male resentment, female contempt, or something more subtle, it has clear economic costs, borne primarily by high achieving women and their families

Behold this brazen gynocentrism: even if a woman kicks a man out calling him a loser for the crime of earning lesser, one should assume that the woman is primarily bearing the economic costs, and claim it to be “pretty clearly worse for women than men”.

Once in a while, try to think that men are humans too.


11 hmm March 5, 2018 at 2:03 am

Loser men are mostly ignored by other men but held in contempt by women. Loser men almost don’t exist, until one of them shoots up a school. When discussions come up of patriarchy, or men vs women, the man pictured is Don Draper or a high earning STEM bro stereotype . The fact that most homeless people, people who commit suicide, and people who wish to have kids but cannot find a partner, are male, doesn’t even occur to be relevant.
If you point out, “what about unsuccessful men?”, you might get the blank stare of -DOES NOT COMPUTE- or a snide, “those guys deserved it”.

As if Elon Musk and Bill Gates prove that all men are privileged over all women.

12 Anon7 March 4, 2018 at 10:35 pm

The hegemonic patriarchy has socially constructed women to prioritize status and wealth in choosing a mate. Therefore when women become more successful than their husbands and divorce them (being men we need not be very concerned about the effects of divorce on them), then women are still getting the short end of the stick because women (unlike men) lack agency in such a system of oppression.


13 Anonadao March 5, 2018 at 7:54 am

No. Hypergamy exists in nature too. Besides, it’s funny that you say that being men we need not yo be concerned about divorce… apart from losing in divorce courts, that would mean a big economic and wealth decrease. I am not sure you really mean what you say or it’s just trolling, because it’s difficult to make such inane argument nowadays.

14 Anonymous March 4, 2018 at 10:47 pm

If men work really hard to at least slightly out-earn their partners, this is automatically bad for women? Because their husbands making more money than otherwise is automatically bad?


15 albatross March 4, 2018 at 10:42 am

I’ll bet it’s from both sides–women and men both are more comfortable in a situation where the man makes more than the woman, so they arrange their lives in ways that lead to that outcome.


16 Severian March 4, 2018 at 11:06 am

I read an article a few years ago that I can’t find now, I think in NYmag or something, about couples in Brooklyn where the woman made quite a lo, and quite a lot more than the man. Note that the men were not exactly deadbeats- they mostly made low six figures, which is a respectable salary in most parts of the world.

What struck me about it was that the women interviewed almost uniformly dripped with contempt for their husbands. And that that went largely unremarked. Had the roles been reversed, and men making 3-500k spoken that way about their wives who only made 100k, it would have raised some eyebrows, I think.


17 hmm March 5, 2018 at 2:08 am

Please try to find it.

I have seen this happen with couples I know. And these women were not bad people. If I were to try to be a mind reader, I would even say the women genuinely hated that they felt this way, but didn’t know what to do about it. Since it is not acceptable to acknowledge the massive elephant occupying the entire room, both the husband and wife had to try to ignore it as best they could.


18 More Anonomous Than Usual March 7, 2018 at 10:58 am

Yes, I’d also be curious to read that article.

I do ok, but my wife makes significantly more money than me. I don’t think she would admit it (and she may not even be fully aware of it) but this is deeply frustrating to her, to the extent that she feels she “lost” the marriage competition with her (female) peers who married men who (seem to) make more money than they do. Facebook exacerbates this feeling.

19 Mulp March 4, 2018 at 1:49 pm

Donald Trump got divorced because his wife earned more?


20 Mulp logic March 4, 2018 at 1:51 pm

Red herrings! Get ’em while they’re cold!


21 More Anonomous Than Usual March 7, 2018 at 9:44 am

I do ok, but my wife makes significantly more money than I do. I don’t think she would admit it (and she may not even be fully aware of it) but this is deeply frustrating to her, to the extent that she feels she “lost” the marriage competition with her (female) peers. Facebook exacerbates this feeling.


22 A March 4, 2018 at 11:14 am

The comparison of average wage differentials to frequency of small male over female differentials (within marriage) is a way of tackling hypergamy. Specifically, they estimate earnings potential, and find that even higher female potential is mitigated by lower labor participation.


23 Franz March 4, 2018 at 10:49 pm

I make a lot more than my wife. I would love to work less.


24 JonFraz March 6, 2018 at 4:14 pm

Hypergamy does mean what you think, at least if you are faithful to the original Greek, hypergamy would mean marrying a lot, like, say, Henry VIII or Elizabeth Taylor.
If you mean “marrying up” we already have a word for that, “gold-digger”, though we could a more respectable Greek word, something like “aristogamy” for marrying the best you can get.


25 Anon. March 4, 2018 at 9:52 am

There’s an obvious alternative hypothesis for what fuels these divorces which is left unexamined…


26 clockwork_prior March 4, 2018 at 10:33 am

The market in trophy husbands?


27 hmm March 5, 2018 at 2:11 am

The demand for trophy husbands is many orders of magnitude smaller than for trophy wives. The demand differential holds not just for trophy spouses, but also for less successful spouses.


28 Art Deco March 4, 2018 at 10:38 am

If you examined it, you’d have to admit women have agency, which you can only do when an achievement is being discussed (or ‘survival’). You’d also have to explore the more unedifying motives women can have in ordering their life, which of course you can never acknowledge as that is status-lowering in the faculty rathskellar (and, the American Sociological Association being what it is, might get you subject to a guild star chamber).


29 Anonymous March 5, 2018 at 1:56 am

“What should we make of all of these findings? My initial reaction was dismay at the widespread existence of such sexism among other men. With time, though, I realized my mistake: I was focusing on other men when I am surely just as complicit. If the average man is sexist in these ways, the odds are that I am, too.

In day-to-day life, I may not realize that I’m contributing to these problems, but neither, probably, do other men.”

FTFY: “I don’t know what I am feeling or thinking, until feminists tell me. Then through introspection I realize that I was sexist all this time, and flagellate myself as penance, until such time as the feminists tell me I can stop”


30 hmm March 5, 2018 at 2:14 am

The answer is always, “I have been too sexist/racist/capitalist, and must repent”


31 Pat March 4, 2018 at 9:57 am

Holy omitted variables…


32 Mulp March 4, 2018 at 1:59 pm

The divorces of men like Donald Trump, John McCain, Newt Gingrich, Justice Thomas, …

A) these “men” are actually women.
B) their wives were making more money or were more successful and better recognized
C) men are assholes
D) everyone is at times an assholes
E) relationships are hard and over time fade or end when not forced by economic dependency


33 Anonymous March 4, 2018 at 10:56 pm

2/3 of divorces are initiated by women. But of course, not literally ALL of them are.


34 JonFraz March 6, 2018 at 4:16 pm

The stat is fairly meaningless except for its face value. We have no idea what underlies those divorce filings. In some fraction of them at least there are husbands who are abusive, addicted and/or adulterous (“the three A’s”). Where there is clear fault in a marriage it’s generally the sinned against partner who wants out, not the sinning partner.


35 what's attractive to women is money March 4, 2018 at 10:06 am

Husbands make more money than wives because women only marry men who make more money than them, even in countries with equal wage laws. It’s the same reason husbands are taller than wives, even in countries where average heights between the sexes are the same.


36 Thomas. E. Miller March 4, 2018 at 10:40 am

As a friend of a famous Brazilian writer told him, “fags (sic) like men, women like money”.


37 Art Deco March 4, 2018 at 10:43 am

No, homosexuals like male bodies. Their taste is variable, but it often tends toward the adolescent male body. They don’t mix well with ordinary men, just men like themselves.


38 Anonymous March 4, 2018 at 11:18 am

> No, homosexuals like male bodies. Their taste is variable, but it often tends toward the adolescent male body.
J. Michael Bailey, who coined the phrase “1000 bottoms looking for a top”, would beg to differ.


39 Albert March 4, 2018 at 11:52 am

Yeah the average gay guy is into hairy buff dudes like bikers and shit. I’d be surprised if 15% of gay men were into even college-aged men, much less younger than that.

40 Thomas. E. Miller March 4, 2018 at 12:02 pm

“No, homosexuals like male bodies. Their taste is variable, but it often tends toward the adolescent male body. They don’t mix well with ordinary men, just men like themselves.”

Granted, but the word “like” was clearly used in a very superficial way (to be fair, as superficial as most heterosexual use it until things get serious). Meaning attraction (physical or otherwise), but not necessarily a deeper connection.

“Their taste is variable, but it often tends toward the adolescent male body.”
Maybe, but lots of them make do with older men well enough, thanks. And let’s not forget all scandals in American public schools about female teachers corrupting their teenager students. On the right side of the law, we can remember all powerful men who traded their wives for newer models, from Henry VIII to Rupert Murdoch. I doubt it is all about soul mating and pure love.


41 Dangerman March 4, 2018 at 10:41 am

> even in countries where average heights between the sexes are the same.

So… nowhere?


42 A March 4, 2018 at 11:15 am

The study estimates earnings potential.


43 shrikanthk March 4, 2018 at 10:07 am

In Indian matrimonial columns, women use their own salary as the floor salary they seek in candidate males. It is a hard cutoff, alomost without exception. And cuts across castes.

If a woman specifies her salary criteria in prospective grooms as “$120K and above”, it goes without saying that she is earning exactly $120K.

Just yesterday I was rejected by a girl who earns $300K, which is about 25% more than what I earn. It simply won’t do. In many cases the salary is specified as the reason for rejection in pretty explicit terms.


44 Moo cow March 4, 2018 at 10:49 am

What happens if the woman gets promoted shortly after marriage? Say its $120k for the woman and $135k for the man. They marry. Then she gets promoted and is now earning $145k. Plus she is now on a managerial track and he is not. Is there immediately a problem? Does she not accept the promotion? Does divorce come sooner or later?

Or is the rejection only at courtship?


45 shrikanthk March 4, 2018 at 10:58 am

Post marriage, the question of divorce doesn’t arise. People usually make it work. Divorce is still a rarity even in urban upper middle class India.

And men lift up their game, when the woman gets a promotion and starts outearning them. I know of an Indian colleague in the office who was exactly in the same position that you describe. ($135K vs $145K) a couple of years after marriage.

He lifted his game! Networked like crazy. Applied to N different positions within the company. Got 2 promotions in the next 3 years. And was earning 25% more than within that timeframe.

Another Indian colleague, faced with a similar situation, left the job, and applied for a higher paying role, within months of his wife’s promotion.


46 Moo cow March 4, 2018 at 11:05 am



47 Severian March 4, 2018 at 12:14 pm

So now we know why Indian-Americans are the highest-earning population in the US. To be crude, I’m inclined to think that a certain amount of “access” might be involved. But of course without that consideration we’d be living in caves eating sticks.


48 Morris Applebaum IV March 4, 2018 at 11:33 am

Maybe she rejected you because you are ugly and have a lousy personality? Don’t feel bad, it might not be your income!


49 shrikanthk March 4, 2018 at 11:40 am

This is pretty early stage “acceptance” to take the alliance forward. She hasnt even met me yet to judge my lousiness and ugliness.

Anyway this isn’t the only case. I have had other rejects where salary was THE reason, though I earn well compared to the general population.


50 Thiago Ribeiro March 4, 2018 at 11:49 am

Seriously, I try to imagine what kind of loser tries to romance a woman he has never see or talked to.


51 shrikanthk March 4, 2018 at 12:04 pm

The Indian idea of marriage is not one based on romance. But a religious vow.

Romance is a secular thing. It is corporeal. Ephemeral. Pertaining to the desires of the flesh. Not a higher ideal.

Even in the West, marriage was viewed as a rite of passage in one’s life. An essential phase and not something that is contingent on “finding a romantic partner”. This was how the West was atleast uptil 16th century.

Ideas of romance and romantic marriages are new fangled notions that grew post Renaissance and during the Enlightenment. Literature had a role to play in promoting “romance”. Plays like Romeo and Juliet.

52 shrikanthk March 4, 2018 at 12:21 pm

The essence of civilization is not love or romance or empathy.

The essence of civilization is egotistic men, nagging wives, and ofcourse religious commitments to keep them together against their nature.

53 shrikanthk March 4, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Civilizations decline when –

a) Men turn “practical”, “reasonable” and less egotistic.

b) Women stop nagging and gossipping

c) Marriage starts being perceived as a secular as opposed to a sacred institution.

54 Thiago Ribeiro March 4, 2018 at 1:54 pm

Then marry any woman. If you are determined (and no wife will try to divorce you anyway and break the votes), any woman will do (someone will end up marrying them anyway, it can be you as well – the vow is what matters). And if it is about a vow, why would women care about prospective mate’s wage anyway? Let us be blunt, Indians are very materialistic and care about little else beyond money (hence, corruption out of control).
Again, courting (it is what you are doing, whatever you are aware enough to understand or not) a woman you never saw is pathetic. Loser do that. Real men have backbone and talk to real women, not abstractions.

55 Thiago Ribeiro March 4, 2018 at 1:59 pm

“Romance is a secular thing. It is corporeal. Ephemeral. Pertaining to the desires of the flesh. Not a higher ideal.”
Yeah, talking to a real woman you actually met, listening her are very fleshy, lustful, demoniac things. I really do not thing you would perform well talking to real women, loser. Have you ever talked to a woman (oh, so lustful!)?

An Indian talking about decadence… India would have to build a civilization before growing decadent.

56 JonFraz March 6, 2018 at 4:23 pm

Re: This was how the West was at least up til 16th century.

A non-trivial fraction of the population of Europe, both eastern and western, did not marry back in the Middle Ages: mainly, religious vowed celibates. Monasticism was huge and attracted many to it.

57 Ali Choudhury March 4, 2018 at 12:58 pm

Just hit and have a very firm idea of what you want in a wife and pursue that aggressively. Worked for me. Preferably just try to find someone who likes you as a person and you like hanging out with. Anecdotally I went on a number of dates with high-earning professional women. Pleasant encounters but living permanently with someone with very high expectations of their future spouse and a constantly driven and high-achieving personality was just not very enticing.


58 shrikanthk March 5, 2018 at 6:48 am

I have tried several strategies. None have worked so far.

I get your point on zeroing in on a very specific type of profile and pursuing that aggressively. As opposed to having a very wide range to begin with.


59 Thiago Ribeiro March 5, 2018 at 8:31 am

Have you tried to accept the real God, who made man and woman in your life?


60 Matt2 March 4, 2018 at 10:08 am

How is this a tax?

Is a tax now defined as any undesirable impact?


61 Anonymous March 4, 2018 at 11:22 am

Any undesirable _outcome_ is more like it. If I like shooting up (or whatever it is they do with) fentanyl, I guess one might call the physiological consequences an “impact” of my habit, but that’s as much bullshitting as calling the consequences a “tax”.


62 matt March 4, 2018 at 1:14 pm

It resembles an income tax in that the more women earn, the steeper the price they pay. There seems to be a particularly large ‘effective marginal tax rate’ when spousal incomes are equal. This framing (besides probably being designed to appeal to tax averse conservatives), high lights the incentives this creates.


63 Anonymous March 4, 2018 at 2:16 pm

An opioid habit also resembles an income tax in that the more you shoot up (or whatever it is they do with them), the steeper the price you pay in health, lost opportunities &c.


64 Daniel Weber March 5, 2018 at 10:00 am

Economists frequently describe anything that penalizes higher income (phasing out of welfare benefits, increased college costs) as a “tax.” It’s not a formal definition, but anyone not being difficult on purpose understands what is meant.


65 sdb March 4, 2018 at 2:21 pm



66 Anonymous this time March 4, 2018 at 10:15 am

If the opposite were true – that successful women had lower divorce rates – we would have a nytimes article talking about the extra hardships born by less successful women.


67 Art Deco March 4, 2018 at 10:32 am

I believe it was the Sulzberger Birdcage LIner that published a thumbsucker on the downside of improvements in male life expectancy: women have to put up with their husbands for a longer run of years. Of course, they interviewed Stephanie Coontz, who starts by saying we should never regard someone’s satisfactory health as a problem and then immediately segues into chatter about what a problem it is.


68 Anonymous March 4, 2018 at 11:23 am
69 Dick the Butcher March 4, 2018 at 1:02 pm


A number of older European and Asian women I speak with think American women are drop-dead stupid.

The smart women strangled the goose that laid the golden eggs. Before the rise of feminism, which undoubtedly made more women even unhappier, men I knew believed women had it “made.” Their arguments were: women controlled 100% of the vaginas and eventually 99% (the men worked themselves into early graves) of the wealth. You may debate the second percentage.

My un-PC advice to women, if you don’t want to get dirty in the slop and blood with the tough men, find a rich man that owns a jewelry store and marry him. With any luck, he’ll work himself to death.

If you don’t like it, marry one of them smart women.


70 Tom West March 4, 2018 at 1:33 pm

> Before the rise of feminism, which undoubtedly made more women even unhappier, men I knew believed women had it “made.”

If that sentence was meant to be self-parody, it succeeded.


71 Dick the Butcher March 4, 2018 at 4:46 pm

I could write that because I am a lesbian trapped in a man’s body.

72 shrikanthk March 4, 2018 at 10:15 am

And I find this perfectly rational and fair.

A woman contributes to the marriage massively by producing kids. The net present value of a kid in a well educated middle class family in US probably is a few million dollars at the very least! So that’s a big big upfront contribution from a woman.

A man, in order to contribute equally to the marriage, has to out-earn his wife by a fairly significant margin, to compensate for his wife’s value addition by virtue of bearing kids.

Even in a marriage where the man and wife earn equally, the bargaining power in moral terms is held by the woman, because she brings child bearing ability to the table, which a man lacks.


73 Art Deco March 4, 2018 at 10:28 am

Yeah, the kids are the product of parthenogenisis, like drone bees.


74 Wang Hua March 4, 2018 at 10:41 am

And Messiahs.


75 Tom West March 4, 2018 at 10:46 am

I think I can speak for most men who feel that our contribution up to birth, while necessary, is perhaps just the tiniest bit smaller than going through 9 months of gestation.

And after birth, it’s pretty rare for men to spend as much time and emotional investment in their (young) children as their spouse. (They may *enjoy* the time they spend with their children more, for exactly that reason).


76 msgkings March 4, 2018 at 11:21 am

Art wouldn’t know, being childless.


77 Thor March 4, 2018 at 11:52 am

Whoa, smh. Don’t tell us you are joining that Cuckmeister dolt who periodically pollutes this site with Art hatred???

78 msgkings March 4, 2018 at 4:38 pm

I don’t hate Art, I just like highlighting his many hypocrisies. Like when he goes on about parenting when he is not a parent.

79 Anonymous March 4, 2018 at 11:35 am

Yeah, because his young children and his SAHM wife live on rainbows and thin air, and have to suffer the brute when he comes home from horsing around on his so-called “job” all day and parks himself on the couch waiting for dinner instead of doing something productive.


80 Peter March 4, 2018 at 2:37 pm

Maybe because their wives will leave them and take the children if they attempt to work less?


81 Tom West March 4, 2018 at 3:15 pm

> Maybe because their wives will leave them and take the children if they attempt to work less?

Not among my peers. All the marital stress that occurred after a newborn (which could be considerable) revolved around the husband NOT being willing to take more time off work or ancillary activities (regardless of the long-term career penalties) in order to handle a greater part of the unpaid family work.

Personally, a few weeks of paternal leave after my first child was born made it incredibly obvious to me that raising a newborn to age 3 is *way* *way* harder than any desk job, even a fairly high stress one. After all, I’ve yet to see a desk job that prohibited you from going to the bathroom alone, which at a certain age range, is not an uncommon “perk of the job” of caring for a 2 year old :-).

82 Franz March 4, 2018 at 11:05 pm

Going to the bathroom with an infant or toddler is completely trivial. It involves zero sacrifice. I have gone to the bathroom holding an infant on many occasions and it didn’t bother my at all, nor should it bother anyone.

83 Tom West March 5, 2018 at 1:13 am

I’m glad for your strength (or your luck in it requiring no strength).

But the inability to understand how an autonomous adult having every moment of your life under control by some other entity could be wearing (even if it’s your own child) demonstrates a paucity of imagination (and a lack of reading of other people’s accounts of raising young children – loss of autonomy is a very common theme).

84 Franz March 5, 2018 at 1:58 am

Sure, it’s quite annoying that you can’t do whatever you want whenever you want anymore. But your example of going to the bathroom, which is truly trivial (like changing a diaper) is a bad one.

85 hmm March 5, 2018 at 2:27 am


The whole point is that these women married men who are the type to keep working, no matter what. They were preferred as husbands for that trait. It can be dressed up with all kinds of proximate justifications. Such a woman can say she just isn’t attracted to men with no ambition. And it is likely true.

It sucks that it causes marital troubles, and it sucks if the wife felt misled. But I have also seen high achieving women who felt like they couldn’t take time off. And to paraphrase a certain NFL coach, “The high achieving husband (or wife), is who we thought they were!!!”

86 Tom West March 5, 2018 at 9:59 pm

> The whole point is that these women married men who are the type to keep working, no matter what.

Oddly enough, that wasn’t exactly how the husband represented himself when marriage and children were discussed. It was all about meeting challenges together, at least until the chips were down. And that’s why the hurt feelings.

And to be fair to the men, it’s pretty easy to agree to something if you (1) don’t figure it will ever come to pass and (2) don’t realize just how much work a small child is.

87 shrikanthk March 4, 2018 at 10:51 am

They are not.

But bearing the kid for 9 months is a bigger contribution to the making of the child than a moment’s ejaculation.

So I understand the moral case for why men ought to earn more than women, or atleast aspire very strongly to out-earning their partners.


88 Slocum March 4, 2018 at 8:40 pm

The carrying of the kid for 9 months is just not the big deal. Many, many years of caring for and raising the kids is a much bigger deal. And that can be shared. Or not. As it happens, I have earned substantially more than my wife over the many years we’ve been married. But I felt no moral obligation to do so. If she had gotten a big promotion to push her salary beyond mine, I would have felt no obligation to go out and top her (nor would she have expected it).


89 hmm March 5, 2018 at 2:31 am

It is easy to say that in a hypothetical situation.
But maybe, after she starts earning more than you, she finds you more annoying than she used to. And her desire for intimacy with you takes a dive. She says it has nothing to do with salaries, and she certainly wants it to be true…


90 Anonymous March 4, 2018 at 11:28 am

Monetarily, a kid in a Western marriage is worth nothing to the family. In fact it’s much less than nothing, bringing up an UMC kid _costs_ a few million dollars in completely sunk investment that is unlikely to pay off ever under the present dispensation.


91 shrikanthk March 4, 2018 at 11:33 am

I was talking of Net Present value to the world at large. Not the family.

The money you spend to raise the kid is not a sunk investment to the world as a whole. The dollars you spend to buy diapers or college tuitions is a contribution to the world GDP.


92 Severian March 4, 2018 at 11:39 am

I’ll give you the diapers. I’d want to know a bit more about the education before granting you that.


93 Morris Applebaum IV March 4, 2018 at 11:40 am

“Monetarily” is quite the qualification. I would argue that a kid is just about the only value to a family, indeed the only way a family can survive.


94 Anonymous March 4, 2018 at 12:05 pm

A justifiable qualification since shrikanthk mentioned millions of dollars.


95 shrikanthk March 4, 2018 at 12:07 pm

I repeat – I was talking of NPV to the world at large. Not the family.

96 IVV March 5, 2018 at 4:10 pm

Damn good argument for creches and clone vats, methinks.

97 Gimlet March 5, 2018 at 2:00 pm

IIRC a whole lot of the cost from those studies on what it costs to raise a kid these days is allocation of housing expense.


98 Dick the Butcher March 4, 2018 at 1:07 pm

What NPV? What discount rate? What monthly cash flow? How many months? How much is the deduction for cash flows to educate/medicate/raise?

That assumes that the kids will pay back the costs of raising them; don’t grow up eating lead paint chips and/or Tide pods; and don’t die of an overdose.


99 shrikanthk March 4, 2018 at 1:13 pm

The discount rate bakes in the mortality risks you talk about.

The education / medication expenses don’t even count as an expense in the cash flow calculation, as those expenses too contribute to world GDP as I mentioned.

I am talking of NPV from the point of view of “mother earth” not parents. The only expense from that POV in the NPV math is if the kid consumes stuff without paying for it. i.e if the parents steal or go on welfare to support the kid


100 Dick the Butcher March 4, 2018 at 4:51 pm


Having raised and educated three. I looked at it from my NPV of cash flows perspective, not the Universe’s.

The intangibles outweigh the financials.


101 dearieme March 4, 2018 at 10:23 am

“better than enduring a poisonous relationship”: the end of that thought usually gets omitted. I suspect it reads “and sod the children.”


102 shrikanthk March 4, 2018 at 10:34 am

It is shocking how such “unchristian” ideas are propagated in mainstream media and even supported by intellectuals on the Right like Mr Cowen.

How exactly do you define a “poisonous relationship”? What if the husband snores too much in the bed? Is that poisonous enough to warrant a divorce. Apparently it is, given the current liberality of divorce laws.

Whatever happened to the Christian oath of “for better or worse, in sickness and in health”?

Speaking for myself, I’d honor the marriage commitment even if my wife is rendered invalid the day after marriage. That’s a part of the commitment I make in the Hindu marriage ceremony. And there is no getting around it.


103 Art Deco March 4, 2018 at 10:40 am

Dr. Cowen is a faculty rathskellar libertarian, not an ‘intellectual on the right’. He’s also quoting somebody else, not offering his own opinion.


104 Wang Hua March 4, 2018 at 10:54 am

“Speaking for myself, I’d honor the marriage commitment even if my wife is rendered invalid the day after marriage.”

Unfortunately for your text comprehension skills, disablement and infimity, as trying as they can be for a person and his/her mate, are not what is being discussed here. Believe me, there is no polio epidemics affecting Oscar-winning actresses’ husbands, and marring a female CEO usualy doesn’t take away a man’s legs.

You can say you’d honor the marriage commitment even if your wife revealed herself as a petty, envious, haranguing, uncaring shrew (which is more or less what is being, falsely or not, being allegued about men married to sccessful working women), but it is a different class of problem. An invalid person can be cared about, a despicable person can only be endured (for moral and religious reasons or, let us be blunt, because “what will the neighbors think?”).


105 shrikanthk March 4, 2018 at 11:03 am

I have known many Indian husbands (and wives) who put up with petty, uncaring, envious spouses. It is the story of every other household in India.

You marry. And you honor the commitment. There are no two ways about it. The only exception I can make is if your physical existence / well being is directly being threatened by torture or threats.


106 Werty March 4, 2018 at 11:45 am

“You marry. And you honor the commitment. There are no two ways about it.”
Which although commendable (at least, as a Catholic, it is my view of marriage, it is a different logical proposition from “if my wife was rendered invalid”. You may know why you first chose the easier to justify example rather than the “fulfilling vows exchanged with despicable person” one.

“The only exception I can make is if your physical existence / well being is directly being threatened by torture or threats.”
Oh, come on. Wouldn’t you die for your wife? Why not dying for your commitment? Legions of hristian martyrs died for someone they never met.

“I have known many Indian husbands (and wives) who put up with petty, uncaring, envious spouses. It is the story of every other household in India.”
Which means one fourth to half of India is made of despicable men/women (instead of, say, innocent people who snore or are not getting ahead at business and are considered inadequade). I would like to say I am surprised by that revelation, but it would be lying. It may even be a gross understimation. I would put the number near to 90%. One can not improvise corruption, underdevelopment, tyranny, stagnation. It is a consequence and a mirror of the people itself.

107 Dick the Butcher March 4, 2018 at 5:06 pm

Formerly, vows are not to be taken as lightly. “For better or worse” used to be one standard. Now, it’s whatever. And over half of marriages end in divorce. What about the children!?

I’m a Catholic, too. Marriage for me/them is a life sentence without chance of parole.

What is the true nature of love? How do I judge whether I have loved? It is not how I good feel; not the warm-and-fuzzies. It’s how, and how much, I made the ones I love feel happy/blessed. That includes stopping them from harming themselves, which can be traumatic. Sometimes tough love is required. Laying down one’s life for another is the extreme example of perfect love (graeter love hath no man). Thin Cyril Rescorla on 11 September 2001.

The Catholic Church teaches, or used to teach, the “Spiritual Works of Mercy,” One of them is “Forgive all injuries.” That would be a standard for “love.” Over the past 39+ years, I’ve silently said that approximately one million times.

108 Werty March 4, 2018 at 6:06 pm

“What is the true nature of love? ”
I hope you knew why you chose a person over another. If live was just the disposition to brighten someone’s life, you could marry any warm opposite sex body.

“It’s how, and how much, I made the ones I love feel happy/blessed. That includes stopping them from harming themselves, which can be traumatic. Sometimes tough love is required.”

You are getting things backward. You are tough (sometimes) because you love, you don’t love because you get to be tough with people.

“Laying down one’s life for another is the extreme example of perfect love (graeter love hath no man). Thin Cyril Rescorla on 11 September 2001.”

Yes, it is. And I, personally, love the old anthem/hymn “I Vow to Thee”: “I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.”

It can be applied to more than just patriotism.”

“And over half of marriages end in divorce. What about the children!?”

I would care a lot more about other people divorcing if I believed that couples who face grave crisis without divorcing face their crisis stoically instead of taking it out at the kids and each other. I have seen enough to not believe it for a second. There are lots of marriages I would rather break for the children’s sake, the souls of the couple be damned. Which is the point, Catholic priests can enforce restriction to Eucharist for divorcees, what they can not enforce is Christian living for the married.

It is still common that a couple avoid divorce for religious reasons (or at least one of them try to avoid), what is saddly uncommon is a couple acting as Christians toward each other and their children for religious reasons. Why should it be different? There are many more people getting religious mrriages than actually attending church or being part of a parish. A religious vow under those conditions is a travesty and the priests know it as well as I know. They should either strike it from the ceremony or restrict religious rites and vows to their flock. Anyone else can seek town hall.

Which, by the way, is the reason I do not buy Conservative haranguing about how gay marriage weakens traditional marriage or how easy divorce laws harmed traditional marriage. All harming made to heterosexual marriage was made by heterosexual married people and couples would not resort to divorce if they did not despise/hate each other.

As for the vows meaning something in the past, suffices to say that Trump is not our first divorcee president and, before that we had a long line of adulterers. And the worse part is, I would still take any of them as a leader over any Indian leader because when leaders can not do their job (as Indians can’t, no matter what they think their Karma is), innocent people die.

109 David March 4, 2018 at 6:41 pm

And this is….good? If people know marriage is unconditional and forever, people are not disincentivised to be a bad partner,
since the downside of bad behaviour is limited.
You really believe this is the best possible version of marriage a society can hope for?
I can see how this adds stability, but this makes me think stability is overrated.

Are you staking your position out of a deodontological or utilitarian framework here (don’t think this is virtue ethics, because I’m hard-pressed to see how tolerating a bad spouse is virtuous)?

110 shrikanthk March 4, 2018 at 6:43 pm

It’s interesting to see you haranguing Indian leaders. Given that three of your largest companies (Microsoft, Google, Pepsi) hare headed by Indian CEOs.

111 shrikanthk March 4, 2018 at 6:50 pm

“If people know marriage is unconditional and forever, people are not disincentivised to be a bad partner, since the downside of bad behaviour is limited. You really believe this is the best possible version of marriage a society can hope for? I can see how this adds stability, but this makes me think stability is overrated”

Not true. When marriages are for life, both people figure out a way to put up with each other. It is hardly ever a one-sided adjustment, though that’s how liberals paint it. I am reminded of Hollywood movies like Mr Skeffington – which have been made with the explicit object of demonising the institution of marriage.

112 Werty March 4, 2018 at 7:02 pm

“It’s interesting to see you haranguing Indian leaders. Given that three of your largest companies (Microsoft, Google, Pepsi) hare headed by Indian CEOs.”

How many of those companies they built? Also how many of those Indian productive people could ever be elected by India’s illiterate oeasants and croocked urban dwellers? I clearly talked about politicians (Trump and those who preceded him). American leaders clearly have done a much better job than their Indian counterparts ever did. American voters clearly have done a better jib than Indians. I am proud abiut America, it stands comparison with any country in the world. That is the reason people come to here.

113 Thor March 4, 2018 at 11:57 am

What makes TC a member of the right?

It seems to me that the only thing that qualifies him is that he’s not a Marxist.


114 Ricardo March 4, 2018 at 10:36 pm

There is a whole spectrum of behavior between snoring too loudly and blowing the family college fund on cocaine, strippers and gambling. The line is surely between the two extremes.


115 Art Deco March 4, 2018 at 10:25 am

Women are the plaintiffs in 2/3 of the divorce actions in this country, but somehow it is ‘men reacting badly’.


116 Severian March 4, 2018 at 11:47 am

From what I’ve observed it seems that they force the issue in a substantial number of the remaining third.

This is not because women are vile harpies (many are, just as many men are insufferable brutes) but because women are different from men. Men, in the large, would rather stay married and screw around on the side. Women, once they lose interest, want to move on. I have some thoughts on why this is the case, but they are… speculative. Nonetheless, this does seem to be the case.


117 Dmitri Helios March 4, 2018 at 1:20 pm

Oh do tell us why…


118 Severian March 4, 2018 at 2:30 pm

Well, the simple answer is obvious, but a bit too simple. Men might as well invest in a stable family and its children, hold onto that, and then try to spread their seed as widely as possible. There’s not as much need for them to have the ideal family situation- they can put eggs in other baskets. Or fertilize them in other baskets. So a decent domestic arrangement that serves as a base for further adventuring works out pretty well for men.

Women, on the other hand, have all of their capital tied up in a relatively small number of children, and in protecting them through the means of their “household.” I use that term very loosely, as nothing like the modern household existed during the very long time we spent evolving as hunter-gatherers, but I hope you catch my drift. Anyway, since women have always been almost completely dependent on the household. and since the household, in one form or another does tend to revolve around a single man, they are much more inclined to ditch one for another when the ditching looks good. In a lot of cases, in the ancestral environment, this was probably a necessity to keep her children from being killed.

That’s a nice story, with some explanatory power, and I think it does at least explain a bit about the differences between men and women. But…

Well, I am suspicious of pat stories, and I have also observed a lot of behavior that seems to, if not contradict this simple story. at least indicate that it is not the entire story, and maybe not even the primary story. I have some thoughts about a more complex story, one that takes into account the ways in which hunter-gatherer bands exchanged genetic material (by exchanging people) and the roles of mothers in mate-selection. The problem is, I have no good way of finding out if they are true!

This is the general problem with evolutionary psychology. We can observe tendencies in modern humans, living in modern societies, and draw inferences about their causes from what we know of the ancestral environment. But we have no good way of validating them. I’m afraid that, far too often, thoughts as inchoate as mine are trumpeted as findings, because a prestigious name or a prestigious name is attached to them.

I have some thoughts on the origin of the differences between men and women, I am not sure what to make of them.


119 hmm March 5, 2018 at 2:40 am

Couldn’t it be simpler:

More men than women can mentally tune out an unhappy home life. I think more women than men would be in a lot of anguish coming home to a spouse that doesn’t love, and might even despise them.

120 Anonadao March 5, 2018 at 8:16 am

I agree more or less with your thoughs. And I know for sure it’s not just us. The problem is that to use this argument with feminists means that they would have to accept influences from biology in the behaviour in men and women. But their dogma forbids the idea of biology having anything to do with this. That’s why we keep seeing the same stories in which everything is blamed on men. Even living older than before, as someone pointed out before.

121 Ricardo March 5, 2018 at 8:51 am

Not a very useful statistic by itself. Women are more likely to file for divorce while men are more likely to be alcoholics, engage in violence, be sent to prison, and engage in infidelity. You are making the same basic logical mistake that people make when they talk about the gender wage gap without accounting for omitted variables.


122 JonFraz March 6, 2018 at 4:26 pm

Again, we have no solid stats on the underlying reason for the divorce– but that should not lead us to automatically view the women as somehow at fault any more than we classify plaintiffs in personal injury suits as more likely to be at fault than the defendant.


123 rayward March 4, 2018 at 10:25 am

In honor of The Graduate on the 50th anniversary of its release, consider how the film depicts Elaine (played by Katharine Ross) “as an eyelash-batting plot device” and “just a dud”. I mean, really, Elaine abandons the “make-out king” at the altar to run off with a lunatic (“Oh Jesus God. . . . .Elaine Elaine Elaine Elaine Elaine Elaine Elaine Elaine Elaine Elaine Elaine Elaine Elaine Elaine”) who not only treated her badly but had an affair with her mother. A marriage made in heaven, I suppose. As for Ross, she went on to other “eyelash-batting plot devices” in such classics as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and to a string of divorces, until she married Sam Elliott in 1984, proving absolutely nothing.


124 Art Deco March 4, 2018 at 10:27 am

one that is better than enduring a poisonous relationship.

You might just quit generating the ‘poison’ (which commonly consists of an incapacity to handle banal domestic abrasions and disappointments).


125 jack March 4, 2018 at 10:33 am

Sounds like an attempted confirmation of how certain segments of our society would like to see the world rather than science — notwithstanding that the reporting is by, we are told, “the new and excellent” SH. Kind of like that old now discredited chestnut from times past that how after football games on TV wife beating increases.


126 chuck martel March 4, 2018 at 10:45 am

We already have socially acceptable, if not approved, methods of limiting female inconvenience. While abortion is the most effective birth control it doesn’t prevent unwanted pregnancies. Just as infant boys have the end of their penis removed for reasons of convenience, why not go whole hog and give pre-pubescent girls hysterectomies, eliminating those monthly bouts of depression and ill-will that are such negatives in the work place. Girls could also compete more effectively with male adversaries if they had at least some facial hair. Hormone treatments could help level the hirsutism gap between the sexes. The struggle for equality must never end.


127 Dan March 4, 2018 at 10:48 am

Being a trophy husband sounds pretty fun actually. Just raise the kids, go the gym, cook and clean, fuck the wifey — what’s not the like?


128 Dark March 4, 2018 at 11:27 am

1. The wife is more likely to divorce a non-working husband.
2. Frequency of sex generally goes down after marriage.
3. Women gain weight after marriage.
4. Taking care of kids all day is blergggggg. One of my friends was a SAHD for years with young kids. Eventually said he couldn’t take it anymore and went back to work.


129 Anonymous March 4, 2018 at 11:39 am

Man, you’d better have your sarcasm detector looked at.


130 Jeff R March 4, 2018 at 10:48 am

Even powerful, successful women must navigate such challenges at home. Indra Nooyi, chief executive of Pepsi, said in a recent podcast, “From my perspective, my mom says, ‘Leave the crown in the garage.’” Ms. Nooyi, who said she had been married for decades, added, “I don’t think I could have balanced all of this had I brought my crown into the house every day.”

Whereas as male CEOs come home and insist the kids submit written requests for piggyback rides?


131 hmm March 5, 2018 at 2:44 am

You missed her point. She was saying the only way she was able to have a successful home life was to be a wife/mother, not a CEO, at home.


132 collin March 4, 2018 at 10:49 am

Corporate success has similar consequences: Women who become chief executives divorce at higher rates than others.

Do men have a similar reality as well? I would guess men that become chief executives have higher divorce rates too. So the question is whether:

1) High success tends to diminish family success.
2) Women out earning men.



133 cc March 5, 2018 at 10:43 pm

Very successful men have a LOWER divorce rate, because a successful husband is exactly what women want–it raises their status and their financial condition.


134 Anonymous March 4, 2018 at 10:52 am

My SO is richer than me, and I am fine with this. Possibly because she doesn’t expect me to do any housework. Just a gigolo ..


135 blah March 4, 2018 at 10:52 am

Has anyone studied whether popular culture (say sit coms that make fun of dumb men with smart wives) actually scare men into not wanting to marry up?

Whenever I raise this point, the response has been “Why should those men care what others think?” In other words, men are expected to be rational agents who should put up with any amount of mental abuse.

One would expect that feminists who actually wanted equality would also consider the idea of respecting men who marry up. But no – after all, as Robin Hanson says, politics is not about policy. Feminism is about showing men that they are inferior.


136 Severian March 4, 2018 at 11:31 am

From what I’ve seen it seems to me that regardless of what society thinks, marriages in which the man is strictly lower status tend to be unhappy ones. I’m not sure I think anything can be done about that.

On the bright side, for the young male gold-digger, it is possible to marry money and compensate with some other form of status. Think John Kerry, or John McCain. More prosaically, I knew a couple that was for a while quite happy. She was the bread-winner and he was a rising young painter (it helped that they were Francophones.) Of course if your early promise fizzles… bon chance!

I wonder if the Kerry household would be a happier one if John had won the presidency. I’m not able do the math in my head that ranks the relative statuses of heiresses and mere Secretaries of State. It would make for an interesting study if you could find more than one sample.


137 Art Deco March 4, 2018 at 3:53 pm

I wonder if the Kerry household would be a happier one if John had won the presidency.

It was his first wife, not his second, who gave him his walking papers. He was part of a two-person law practice at the time, not in public office. His first wife’s family had assets in eight digits.


138 wiki March 4, 2018 at 11:09 am

Hmm, I wonder where the research is that will discuss the tax on men of marrying such women. Or marrying women who change their minds about family and children and decide midstream to defect on the original arrangement, break up the marriage and focus on career or a higher status male? Absurd. In economics Coase reminded us that the costs are mutual but somehow research seems to focus on the feminist friendly narrative.


139 Millian March 4, 2018 at 11:25 am

“Another study found that the same is true in Hollywood: Winning the best actress Oscar portends a divorce, while winning the best actor award does not.”

A study with p=0.050, how convenient.


140 edgar March 4, 2018 at 11:40 am

Reading this in conjunction with the previous post on Girard, one might ponder whether the elephant in the brain, (apologies to Hanson), is a christian palimpsest upon which the current victimology fads are scribbled. As Hollywood congratulates itself upon its bigoted and hateful representations of white males tonight, one thinks there might actually be an audience member with a conscience developed enough to feel some small measure of guilt.


141 Thor March 4, 2018 at 12:03 pm



142 jeb March 4, 2018 at 11:41 am

Was going to comment on the absurd sexism in all of this, but the thread of comments I found here was, well, positively excellent. I’m very glad to see so many are finally realizing how everything is so slanted towards blaming men for women’s short-comings, and are not afraid to say so.

If he cheats, he’s a lout for betraying her.

If she cheats, he’s a lout for not keeping her haaaaaaaaappppppy!

ad nauseum.


143 Severian March 4, 2018 at 12:03 pm

It’s important not to go too far in the opposite direction. There is quite a bit of awful in people if you look at them closely, but there is quite a bit of good as well. One might prefer not to be a person, not to have to put up with all the primate bullshit in being such, but one does not have much choice in the matter. People are what matter to me, despite my qualms about them, and indeed about myself.

Women are people too, people I have quite a lot of interest in, and they are complex mixes of awful and good, just as I am, driven by impulses they do not fully understand, and cannot control, just as I am. Some have been awful to me- I have been awful to some, perhaps more than I know.

The problem with a certain strain of modern feminism is that it elides all that messy complexity in favor of a simplistic narrative that casts woman as the eternal sufferer and man as… well, you know. This is an odd approach, IMHO. To put someone on a pedestal, or to make them a caryatid is to strip them of the messy awfulness and goodness we are all composed of. If your proposition is that “women are people too” your ethos should recognize the implications of that.


144 Severian March 4, 2018 at 12:32 pm

And to elaborate a bit- it is very common for people to react to a proposition they disagree with by adopting its antithesis. The more men are told that “women are angels” the more will observe that this is not at all the case, and decide that “women are devils.” It’s a very good thing that there is so much fraternization with the enemy in the war of the sexes. It should not be surprising that the more pernicious strains of feminism are largely driven by lesbians. (Though it’s interesting that there is not symmetry with gay men here- I have ideas about why this is the case, but again… speculative.)

There are many other examples of proposition/antithesis that involve less fraternization, and thus less correction. There are many elephants in the brain (it holds multitudes… of elephants… in my pajamas) but this is one of the more dangerous elephants, IMHO. It appears that you can convince a not insignificant number of people to believe almost anything by arguing it’s opposite and allowing them to observe that you are wrong.


145 jeb March 4, 2018 at 1:27 pm

Of course there is good and bad in both genders – both Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit, after all (albeit for different reasons – Eve was deceived while Adam was trying to please Eve). The problem is the judges in the courts, the lawmakers in parliament, the professors in colleges and the HR department nazis who seemingly are unable to understand this concept and continue to spew propaganda and hate-speech for, oh a good and solid 40 years or so now, and think there are no consequences for both genders.

An example is the recent me-too witch hunt and its results. I was reading an article a week or so ago about Arianna Huffington of Huff-Po. Apparently, men are now three times less likely to want to “mentor” women in the workplace due to the increased risk of sexual harrassment accusations. Of course, this is men’s fault, and its men’s job to fix it… so now she’s trying to start a movement encouraging men to “man-up” and mentor women in the workplace, because, you know, it’s in women’s best interests. Of course, there is very little gender diversity in Huff-po’s own staff.

Even in my own workplace, I have a female boss who continually complains that she only gets $0.76 that a man would get “to do the same job.” There’s no point in “man-splaining” to her that this canard has been thoroughly debunked so many times since, well, it first came out. All it does is make me aware of how much she is overpaid even at $0.76. For example – she works only 4 days a week while I work 5. She refuses overtime while myself and my male colleagues are chomping at the bit to get some overtime. In an emergency, on weekends for example, she refuses to come by work even for 30 minutes because of “work-life balance,” and instead calls the men at home insisting they come instead. When hiring new people, she bends over backwards to hire women who, according to management, pay more attention to detail (sexist, anyone?) – and she also expresses her worry after every interview with a man that he might be on drugs, a crook, or be violent. Then, we we get our new female hire, and the little girls club starts and the female employee is exempted from any of the icky and dirty and heavy and hard jobs – that gets pushed off onto the men, who are expected to be grateful for the honor of “being taxed” with doing more and more crappy work and never getting any of the nice work – because that’s for the women to do. Well, you get the idea. It’s a moral sin of society that more women are not on executive boards, however, it is perfectly reasonable that there are also hardly any women who are the garbage collectors in our society.

Certainly women are human too, and there is both good and bad… however, the anti-male narrative has been so steady and so insulting and for so long, that it has the effect of the boy who cried wolf – which of course, ends up harming women more than men in the long run.

Meh – they can change their own damn tires.


146 Severian March 4, 2018 at 5:01 pm

This is what I am getting at, and it’s a subtle and difficult problem. Men and women are different. and we used to explicitly treat them differently in our legal system, when their roles in society were more prescribed.

Now that women fill many of the roles that men traditionally have we run into a problem. To put it crudely, we don’t women to be subject to the vicissitudes men are generally subject to. And women, in particular, do not want to be subject to such. But the hardships men have traditionally silently put up with are the hardships that make things run. Filling male roles means taking on those hardships. and women do seem to want the benefit of those roles without taking on the difficulties that they entail.

This is not just a matter of work. We can look at the recent campus rape mania and note two things.

1) Rape is probably the most under-reported crime, and a lot of people should be in jail for it, but aren’t.
2) Rape is also one of the crimes that is most commonly falsely reported, or to be crude about it, lied about

It baffles me that people argue that because 1 is true, 2 must not be, and vice-versa. It turns out that both propositions are true.

There’s a 3 btw.

3) Bad sex, even if initially consented to, can verge on rape. But it’s hard to adjudicate.

I’ve woken up next to someone I didn’t even remember meeting and regretted having sex with more than once, because I am a reprobate. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to cry rape because I was a young man putting notches on my bedpost, even notches I regretted. If you drink like a man and fuck like a man you’re going to wind up with a man-sized hangover, full of existential dread and people you have to call cabs for.

The problem is that we haven’t yet figured out how to treat modern women. Men get a hearty “Fuck You” regardless- grow a pair and deal with it. Women don’t really like being told to grow a pair, and complain a lot. Telling them to grow a pair just leads to infinite regress.

147 peri March 5, 2018 at 11:22 pm

Just make sure the front end loader in the children’s book is a girl. But don’t make her too fetching!

148 Slocum March 4, 2018 at 8:53 pm

“Women are people too, people I have quite a lot of interest in, and they are complex mixes of awful and good, just as I am, driven by impulses they do not fully understand, and cannot control,”

Of course. But a lot of women seem to have been driven by a ‘go girl’ culture that cheers them constantly and tells them they can do little wrong and that relationship problems are invariably the man’s fault. From an earlier, funnier era of ‘The Onion’:

“Women Now Empowered By Everything A Woman Does”

Personally, I’m quite glad to have been happily married and off the market for a good long time.


149 Boonton March 4, 2018 at 11:46 am

I’m not sure this is a tax. Just my impression but I think few men leave marriages because their pride can’t handle a woman that earns more than they do. As a gender we have pioneered that glass ceiling with a slew of dedicated freeloaders who see their women off to work while they hit the xbox to ensure we can emotionally handle the high income woman as a mate. That implies then the female chief executives are getting divorced because they are now in a different league and no longer have to tolerate the compromises they made earlier.


150 Thomas March 5, 2018 at 11:06 am

“Just my impression but I think few men leave marriages because their pride can’t handle…”

Of course that is your impression. You are a well known racist and sexist.


151 Dennis Nichols March 4, 2018 at 12:16 pm

Sendhil Mullainathan sees the situation as a problem to fix. He writes, “My initial reaction was dismay at the widespread existence of such sexism among other men. With time, though, I realized my mistake: I was focusing on other men when I am surely just as complicit.”

He would do better to learn first whether the different challenges and opportunities facing men and women are inherent to the sexes, not just social constructs. That women not only can bear children but wish to do so is not a surprise. Instead of focusing on men, Mullainathan might focus on X and Y chromosomes.


152 matt March 4, 2018 at 1:32 pm

This does not explain the study on the asymmetry in small wage differences between spouses.


153 Anonymous March 4, 2018 at 11:34 pm

Well either women choose to work less or men to work more or both, because they prefer this arrangement, or it’s something else… right?


154 David March 4, 2018 at 12:20 pm

If women value the traits A,B,C and D in men (A being “Ambition”, B being “Intelligence”), but men just value C and D,
and we assume that being strong in one trait comes at the expense of another (seems at least plausible for Ambition),
and we also assume, that both groups respond to incentives, why describe it in terms of sexism (an irrational, somewhat ‘evil’ prejudice)?

Whilst women might pay a ‘success’-tax (or alternatively put, they just don’t profit doubly from success in the market place, in the partnership market as a man would),
and we can call that sexist, if we like, but women ‘in aggregate’ also get a benefit from getting away much more easily with being deficient in A and B in the partnership market
(though, that wouldn’t be a benefit to those women, who are strong in these traits, anyway).
But couldn’t we also equally say, that women are sexist because they reject men deficient in A and B and therefore the subgroup of A, B-deficient men hit a glass ceiling of their partnership value?
Why even call this sexism, then, if it’s just the consequence of different partner preferences of the two genders?
Why is it immoral (which it is assumed to be, because it is apparently sexist) not to care about A and B?
Must everything, that is downstream from different gender preferences be called sexism, which is very much a fighting word?
Why was the author’s first impulse to feel anger at his fellow men for their preference and then amusingly ashamed, at even the potential similarity to his own preferences (which he wasn’t even very sure about)?
This seems like some kind of internalized androphobia, to me. Is he really feeling these emotions (I don’t think, I know people in real life, who would feel shame that way) or is he just signaling?

[yes, sexism needn’t necessarily be defined as being ‘immoral’, but if you’re being called a sexist, it’s usually understood, that you are being a bad, terrible and very bad person,
and if someone tells me men are sexist, I hear very strongly ‘you are being a mean, evil person, because you are a man and you should feel ashamed of yourself for that’,
which seems like an anti-persuasive argument, since I do not feel at all inclined to feel ashamed for my or angry at other people’s manliness, when someone tells me to do so
(because why on earth would I grant some random journo/pundit/activist/economist/politician/angry-shouty-person moral authority over me?).]


155 Severian March 4, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Well, it wasn’t a very good piece, largely because it failed to address the issues you raise. It might be the case that Tyler posted a link to it in order to elicit comments like yours without having to put his name to them. Tyler’s playing 3-D Straussian chess much of the time, apparently.


156 David March 4, 2018 at 1:13 pm

Not sure about that. I’m afraid, I’m comming across as an ass (thereby being anti-persuasive myself) with this comment, whether people agree with me,
or not (too many sentences ending with a question mark and too many parenthesis).
Therefore I’m probably not furthering his super-secret Straussian utility function very well.


157 Severian March 4, 2018 at 5:08 pm

I liked many of your points until I noticed the question marks. I’ve since entirely revised my world-view, because I’m afraid I can’t share a jot or a tittle with someone who uses punctuation so badly.

And yes, I’m being an ass.


158 matt March 4, 2018 at 1:41 pm

It’s an asymmetry in how the sexes interact that has negative effects (higher divorce rates, forgone wages and productivity). These negative effects probably impact one of the sexes more than the other. Seems like a fair definition of sexism to me, but I guess your mileage may vary.


159 David Gretzschel March 4, 2018 at 3:04 pm

I believe sexism is an extremely loaded term (and he uses it promptly to justify his moralizing, anger and shame).

He doesn’t mention the advantages of the effect on women, who profit from not having to be ambitious
in order to avoid divorce. Or the harm for male slackers trading at very little value as a mate.
He’s just contrasting the male-beneficial consequences with the female-harmful ones and
completely ignores the other pair.
Maybe we can call it sexism if he has shown that the second effect pair is not evening it out in aggregate.
Or maybe he would argue that low Ambition, low IQ people have no moral worth, anyway or that they don’t matter to society at all economically (pareto-effect or something).
But he neglected talking about the second pair of consequences entirely, so he didn’t prove, as much as he artificially framed the situation as being much more disparate,
than it could possibly be (because the second pair would, if not swing the balance in the other direction, even it out at least a little).

But even if he did prove disparate economic impact, and we call it sexism, it must automatically mean, that the phenomenon must be addressed (because sexism means evil).
I agree with the idea of sexism (”people having irrational, self-serving, ‘evil’ prejudices about a gender”) being bad.

But the average man (apparently) not caring about a mate’s intelligence or the average woman caring is
not about “irrational, evil prejudices” and the mild tastes and preferences of people should have value as a thing in themselves and not be demonized or optimized away
for some notion of optimized economic growth or some arbitrary idea of gender equality (or if he thinks they should, he should make the case, as this is not obvious
and no longer economics, but political advocacy under the guise of science).


160 David March 4, 2018 at 3:13 pm

uhmm… someone please here delete that last name (bloody autofill)?
Don’t want to get involved in your American cyberbullying warfare and drama, because I said something,
someone disagrees with strongly and now knows my name. (very craven, I know)


161 Anonymous March 5, 2018 at 12:03 am

You mean the positive effects of getting to trade up to a better husband and being able to slack off?


162 David March 4, 2018 at 12:33 pm

I suppose people really enjoy modelling themselves as evil, sinners. After all, sinners have agency and ‘matter’ more than unobjectionable people.
Explains these very kinky Catholics, at least.
And a journalist especially would, since being in a BS-heavy (euphemistically ‘ephemeral’), dying profession with no job security, any agency must be welcome.


163 David March 4, 2018 at 12:37 pm

Sorry, my bad. He’s not a journalist. He’s an economics professor at Harvard. Wish I could delete that 🙁


164 blah March 4, 2018 at 12:51 pm

He’s a BS vendor, so you are not that off the mark. A while back, he wrote a New York Times article on why Trump should hire academic economists: apparently because only academic economists study certain types of problems – in doing so, he did not even have the honesty to try to make a case that any practical result can actually be achieved with the academics’ study of the probelms at all:


165 David March 4, 2018 at 1:05 pm

yeah, maybe. But that’s like calling a power plant operator an electrician, just because they both work with electricity.
I consider a professor to be a high-status and a highly capable person (if he’s actually in the very subjectively defined field of ‘bs vending’ or not)
and would not assume he feels shame (if it’s not just signalling) for existential-angst reasons, like a lower-status person, like a journalist.


166 Transnational Pants Machine March 4, 2018 at 12:33 pm

This is one of my favorite leftist lies — that men dump women who are more successful, and not the other way around.

It’s absurd on its face, but lefties eat it up.


167 Boonton March 4, 2018 at 12:54 pm

I agree these days I think there’s very few men who find a breadwinning wife so problematic that they would rather leave the marriage than have a spouse making in the top 1%+.

But then causality might be trickier to spot than you think here. Perhaps woman know how to ‘play the role’ when their husbands get a high level position but men do not. Wives know being a CEO’s wife brings in a set of social demands and isn’t just a big paycheck to spend. Perhaps men view it as getting the gold plated xbox and nothing else. As a result women leave the marriage but saying it’s just the woman dumping the man after getting the big raise is missing some key elements here.


168 Tom West March 4, 2018 at 1:54 pm

I suspect that Boonton has it right in many cases.

Also, in cases where both partners work but the woman earned less, there was often an assumption (accepted by both) that the lesser earner would end up performing more of the unpaid work (cleaning, childcare, etc.), often justified by opportunity cost, etc.

Often enough, that assumption ended up broken when the woman became more successful than their spouse. Arguments about “you should do the childcare because losing your hours doesn’t cost the household as much” morphed into “you should do the childcare because you’re more suited for it.”. Anger and feelings of betrayal ensue.


169 Anonymous March 5, 2018 at 12:05 am

Evidence being? My suspicion would be that women continue to do more housework because they care more about cleanliness then men (on average)


170 hmm March 5, 2018 at 2:57 am

I’m sure the lack of equity in household chores is a real issue in some cases. But realistically, in households with 2 high earners, brown-skinned people do all the housework and most of the childcare.

But other cases include the wife losing respect for the husband, and the husband being asked to choose between being treated like a sitcom dad or getting the hell out of there.


171 Bill March 4, 2018 at 2:43 pm

So, the conclusion is that

Lesbian corporate executives are less likely to divorce

As are lesbian Hollywood actresses.


172 Potato March 4, 2018 at 5:53 pm

I don’t have a dog in this fight.

However, it appears as though the opposite is true. They have the highest rate of relationship dissolution and domestic violence. That’s in comparison to MF couples, MM couples and trans couples.

Could be an artifact of reporting likelihood. However the most likely explanation is that the more women in a relationship the higher the rate of domestic violence.

An economic explanation would be that the lower the cost of committing domestic violence the higher the demand. Women are not evil and are definitionally less prone to violence in general. However, Women are almost never prosecuted for domestic violence, and it is rare that mutual domestic violence is considered mutual.

My personal 2c would be anyone that raises their hands at you should be immediately disqualified as a romantic partner. Leave immediately and don’t look back. Use taxpayer money to open shelters for both genders immediately. Confiscate weapons temporarily for spouses accused of violence. Common sense. Active violence prevention should be at the fore of local police department priorities.


173 Severian March 4, 2018 at 5:57 pm

The upshot is- best advice for a young man is to marry an ambitious lesbian.


174 Ron Paulson March 4, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Research indicates that, on average, don’t care much about their partner’s status (and relative status). Most studies show men have a (very weak) preference for more successful women.

Women, on average, care A LOT about their partner’s status and relative status. Pretty much every study shows women have a strong preference for more successful men.

It’s bizarre that the author focuses on the hypothesis that men are resentful of their wives success, rather than the hypothesis that women are resentful of their husband’s relative failure.


175 Severian March 4, 2018 at 5:50 pm

Bizarre? Or predictable? I think I’ll play some Overwatch now, and maybe later call that girl from from last summer who showed me her tits within five minutes of meeting her. They were kind of nice, tbh. I wouldn’t mind another look.


176 Dan Hanson March 4, 2018 at 4:27 pm

Other possibilities –

Women that move up the corporate ladder start associating with other higher status people – including men. Associating with higher status men makes them think less of the lemon they have at home.

Men stay with women for sex. Women stay with men to have their children and themselves protected and cared for (evolutionary biology argument). When women work really hard to attain money and power, they do so at the expense of their sex life (“I’m always so exhausted after a long day at the office!”). In the meantime, the women realize they no longer need that man financially. So the marriage falls apart.

Women who make it to the top are selected for aggression and drive – which can make them just as difficult to be married to as men who have drive and aggression. So there’s a correlation between rising to the top and divorce, but it’s not causal. Both are side effects of a third variable.

Women who make it to the top are more likely to have lousy relationships, which may be why they focused on work in the first place.

Women judge their men based on relative status, and men don’t care. No one bats an eye when a male executive marries his fitness instructor, or if a rich and powerful man has a wife who doesn’t work or who works a menial job. But if a rich woman has a husband in lower social or econmic class, people talk. Women still expect men to be providers, even if not strictly necessary.

To make it to the top, you need to put in long hours and usually lots of travel. Men may not be able to handle having their wives away from home, traveling with other men of higher status, etc. I do not think jealousy is exactly symmetrical between the sexes, probably because the consequences of infidelity are not symmetrical. Evolutionarily speaking, if your wife bears a child with another man and you don’t know, it’s a disaster for your genes as you have to help raise another man’s child for many years. But if you get some random woman pregnant, it has no real effect on your wife and children, so long as you don’t leave them for the other woman. So men may be much more freaked out by their wives traveling with other men than women are of their husbands traveling with other women.

There could be many other factors. Do they account for the possibility that the most successful women are less likely to have children, and therefore have less of a need to stay in the marriage?


177 Severian March 4, 2018 at 5:41 pm

“Women who make it to the top are selected for aggression and drive – which can make them just as difficult to be married to as men who have drive and aggression.”

“One of these things is not like the other” is my favorite shower song too.


178 Jay March 4, 2018 at 6:29 pm

How many more years until we have a Democrat politician that proposes a 20% excise income tax on labor income paid to men, since women make 80 cents on the dollar compared to men for doing EXACTLY THE SAME WORK? What will this do to the prevalence of men “changing sexes” to avoid the tax?

*I use quotation marks because I include in this population the people that pull a Donald Trump bone spur.


179 Victoria Wilson March 4, 2018 at 7:14 pm

I think it is safe to say that everyone on this thread and the audience in general believes that there is room for stronger support of the institution of marriage in this country; that the sheer effort of couples to remain intact, to continue with their care of their children and their parents would create more than a pleasant environment but a tangible societal value.
Yet the stream of responses and reactions on this thread to the well supported data regarding female labor struggles vis-à-vis personal life are so varied, and emotionally charged. It seems that determining what we really mean by marriage and expect from it is a low hanging fruit to be plucked and preserved as social capital.


180 JF March 4, 2018 at 7:20 pm

It is frankly embarrassing that one of our “top” people could even fathom to write such an article.

Here are some assumptions Mullainathan needs to get started.

1. preferences do not vary across on gender

2. “preference” is just a way to say statistical measure of well-being, i.e. “happiness”

3. gender outcome differences exist and always favor men. For example, it is obviously better have one spouse for 65 years than it is to have three spouses, each for 20 years

4. outcome differences are bad for women and therefore shall be called a “tax” on women (note: this tax is de facto evidence for sexism.)

5. The “tax” exists because men exert effort to uphold it, ‘reacting negatively’ for example. Women are victims of this tax; they are not responsible for it, and they cannot escape it.

5.b. (For a man, a ‘negative reaction’ is no more than a mechanism to tax further “tax” women. It is not indicative of his own negative emotional experience, for example.)

6. In the absence of the male-imposed tax on women, women would choose to behave just as men do. (That this is not the case today is evidence of sexism.)

That’s all I can muster.
Development and all “Statistical economics” should be expunged from economics departments proper and moved to Public policy, statistics, engineering…. which employ similar modes of thinking.


181 jorod March 4, 2018 at 8:45 pm

Hollywood is a circus of pimps, whores and queers.


182 triclops41 March 5, 2018 at 3:01 am

That sounds like an entertaining circus!


183 Dark March 4, 2018 at 8:56 pm

Oddly enough, the blogger Tyler called “evil” back in 2008 had a post about the phenomenon of award winning actresses divorcing after winning a while ago.


184 blah March 4, 2018 at 10:49 pm

He is evil, because he treats women like Tyler treats men.


185 blah March 4, 2018 at 10:49 pm

I remember when Gemma Arterton became a Bond girl and soon enough ended her relationship with her boyfriend, media said: The 22-year-old actress, who played MI6 agent Strawberry Fields in Quantum Of Solace, gave devastated Eduardo Munoz his marching orders last weekend..

This is how society treats men – when a woman makes the initiative, it is fair game to report it as “marching orders” as if the guy was a lowly employee. And yet, it invents narratives like this to say that women are the real victims.


186 blah March 4, 2018 at 10:57 pm

I am surprised by the amount of push back this article has attracted from men.

This one is a very mild and gentle article as far as Tyler’s articles on the topic go: here he is only being gynocentric, whereas often he is female chauvinist.


187 Anonymous March 4, 2018 at 11:19 pm

Thanks for the laugh Tyler. And a good argument against getting married if you’re a man.


188 ChrisA March 4, 2018 at 11:32 pm

A few thoughts;

– Are we going to make policy based on the experiences of Oscar winning actresses? They seem to be compensated in so many other ways. I hardly think from a utilitarian point of view these are the people we should start with.
– If there is “tax” on rich women, surely there is also a tax on poor men, in that their marriage prospects are significantly worse than average. As the poor men are disadvantaged as well by being poor, any compensatory mechanism should surely apply to them first?
– Applying negative consequences to higher divorce rates for high earning women surely should include an analysis of whether the divorce was initiated by the women rather than the man. If someone decides to divorce because they have better alternatives then that can’t be described as a negative thing for them, it is a positive thing, and any compensation should go the other way (to the low earning spouse).


189 blah March 4, 2018 at 11:37 pm

Gynocentrism. That is the word. It should be more popular, as should the following article, which is one of the best articles ever written on feminism:


190 hmm March 5, 2018 at 3:15 am

Lower earning men are despicable, and should not be able to jealously steal from their hard working ex-wives. Lower earning women who initiated divorce must have had a good reason to do so, and should be compensated for all of the unpaid labor they enacted during the marriage.


191 Tom March 5, 2018 at 12:30 am

Why is it always a guys fault? Studies have shown that women seek someone who is above them(social, economic, etc). They regard a man to be lazy if he is not above her. The Red Queen gene.


192 Ted Craig March 5, 2018 at 8:57 am

This is about spouse selection.
Most of the best actor winners in the past 20 years have been married to women who weren’t actors. The women who remained married are mostly married to men who aren’t actors.
I remember reading a survey of Harvard MBAs and the men had much different views on marriage than the women. To be blunt, women believe that can have it all. Until society redefines what “it all” is, I don’t think that’s realistic.


193 Ted Craig March 5, 2018 at 9:27 am

It also shows the age bias in Hollywood against both older actresses and younger actors. The average age for a first divorce is 30. In the past 10 years, three women under 30 have won best actress. The youngest actor to win in that time was 32.


194 Chri March 5, 2018 at 5:40 pm

I don’t have anything substantive to add that hasn’t already been said…just that this is a very embarrassing post for Tyler. He is blue-pilled on all things gender and race.


195 cc March 5, 2018 at 10:31 pm

I believe both of the observations (men make just a little more and big female success portends divorce) are due to the decisions of women. Women have a strong need to be protected and feel secure. If the man is not successful (defined in this case relative to herself) then she does not find him attractive. As evidence, divorce skyrockets after a man is laid off.


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