Economic Need and Wives' Employment

David J. Eggebeen, Alan J. Hawkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This article argues that the meaning of the economic motive for White married mothers' labor force participation has changed over the past 30 years. The growth in White married mothers' labor force participation has come from mothers whose husbands earn a relatively “adequate” income rather than from mothers whose husbands earn “inadequate” incomes. For most White married mothers, the decision to work outside the home is best characterized as a personal choice to seek an ideal life-style combining family and employment rather than economic necessity. Broad structural forces will continue to influence couples' decisions about maternal employment, but these forces may weaken as they are increasingly mediated by personal value systems about how we should live our lives rather than real economic exigency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-66
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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