Is living on one income a status symbol?
Recently CNN published an article titled "No kids, no jobs for growing number of wives ". This article profiled two women who are stay at home wives with no kids. A quote from the article states that "stay-at-home wives are the latest 'status symbols'" and that "a stay-at-home spouse is often an extreme and visible luxury".
The article spawned a lot of comments ranging from vitriolic statements saying that these stay at home wives are lazy and selfish "trophy wives" to some sentiments that indicate that it is awesome these people could live on one income. What I found interesting is that the entire article gave the impression that it is abnormal for a family to live on one income, and that these stay at home wives are such oddities that they needed to be displayed and analyzed.
For a very long time it was widely accepted for a spouse to stay home and one income was enough for living and saving. In Elizabeth Warren's Two Income Trap she explains that since many women poured into the work force single income families had to compete for the same resources as two income families. As a result, the cost of many necessities went up and two income families became the norm. Throughout the book, she argued that a stay at home spouse is an enormous economic safety net against unemployment and disability, and families that need two incomes to survive take on double the risk of facing bankruptcy.
Even when both spouses work, I think there is a safety net in living on one income. My husband and I live on less than one of our incomes, and that gives me a sense of security because in case one of us lose our jobs or becomes unable to work at least we know we can survive on one income. Additionally, saving the extra income for the future lets us reach early retirement more quickly.
So is living on one income a status symbol for families with at least two able bodied adults? I suppose it could be, but I think most families that live on one income in today's society do not live in luxury. In fact, for two people to live on one modest income takes quite a bit of discipline and frugal sense and I think it is rather unfortunate that this lifestyle is now seen as abnormal.
Does your family live on one income? Do you think having a stay at home spouse is an "extreme luxury"?
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