Posts made in October 2017

Among U.S. couples, men still are expected to bring home the bacon

About 70% of Americans still believe that it is “very important” for a man to be the primary wage-earner, if he is to be a good husband or partner. However, as many U.S. couples will tell you, those assumptions are changing.

Indeed, today, while husbands still earn the “man’s share” of a couple’s communal income; wives are picking up a greater amount of the family’s expenses, according to results of a recent poll released on September 20 by the Pew Research Center.

While in 1980, 87% of men earned more than women; in 2017, that number has decreased to 69%. Conversely, although only 13% of wives earned more than their husbands in 1980, fully 31%—more than double the original amount—do so today.

Interestingly enough, men with lower incomes and less education are especially likely to place a greater emphasis on their role as financial providers. Roughly eight-in-ten adults ages 25 and older (81%) with no education beyond high school say that, for a man to be a good husband or partner, being able to support a family financially is very important. Among those with some college experience 72% say this, and the share is smaller still among those with a four-year college degree (62%).

The pattern is similar when it comes to women. Four-in-ten high school graduates say being able to financially support a family is very important, compared with 29% of those with some college and 25% of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

There are cultural and age-related differences, as well: Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to place a high level of importance on being able to financially support a family: 84% of blacks say this is very important for a man, as do 78% of Hispanics. By comparison, 67% of whites say the same.

What’s more, the older the couple, the more pressure there is on the man to “bring home the bacon.” Baby Boomers—adults age 65 and above—are especially likely to say that the man should earn the larger paycheck. However, the different expectations for men and women persist across age groups. Among adults ages 18 to 29, for example, 64% say it is very important for men to be able provide for their family, while 34% say the same about women.

Finally, the researchers found, while women have traditionally been the “caretakers” of the family, now there is an expectation that men will contribute emotionally to a relationship and do their fair share of household chores. . Overwhelming majorities of survey respondents said it is very important for men (86%) and women (90%) to “be caring and compassionate” in their relationships. What’s more, 57% think men should do a significant amount around the house, while just slightly more respondents (63%) said women should shoulder those tasks.

The nationally representative survey of 4,971 adults was conducted Aug. 8-21, 2017, using Pew Research Center’s “American Trends Panel”—a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults recruited from landline and cell phone random digit dial surveys.

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Can the new administration competently handle global affairs?

A slim majority of U.S. adults, 52%, now trusts the federal government to handle global problems competently—representing the first time this figure has been at a majority level in five years, according to results of a poll released by Gallup on September 20.

Fewer, 45%, trust the government to handle domestic problems—similar to last year but above the record-low 38% established in 2015. While these findings are far from the historical highs in Gallup’s trend, trust in both areas has edged back up in recent years.

The public generally has trusted the federal government to handle problems abroad more than those at home, and the current readings are no exception. The most recent results are based on Gallup’s annual Governance Poll, conducted in early September.

Trust, as it is described here, is defined as those who say they have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in the government.

Overall levels of trust for international or domestic problems, while markedly improved from two years ago, have changed little since the same time last year—a fact that would surprise many Americans, given the change in presidential administrations and attitudes (from globalist to nationalist). One year ago, 49% trusted the government with international problems; and 44%, with domestic problems.

When was trust at its highest point? One month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in October 2001, trust in the government’s ability to handle both foreign and domestic problems peaked at 83% and 77%, respectively. A decline in those high readings was inevitable, when the rally effect began to fade, yet it wasn’t until two or three years ago that they reached their nadir, Gallup says.

However, trust in handling international problems increased again during Barack Obama’s first term; only to drop off at the start of his second term, when, among other problems, ISIS attacks mounted and tensions with Russia and Syria began heating up.

The pollsters note that, as with many issues today, partisans’ opinions are highly influenced by which party is in the White House. As such, Democrats’ trust in the government to handle both international and domestic problems has fallen sharply this year, while Republicans’ trust on both dimensions has surged.

The current Democratic reading for trust in handling international problems, 40%, is the lowest since George W. Bush’s last months as POTUS. This marks a 34-percentage-point decline since one year ago when Obama was in the White House. Yet, the current Democratic reading is significantly higher than the 23% Republican reading from one year ago, representing some moderation on this dimension of the polarization picture.

Meanwhile, Republicans’ trust in the government’s handling of foreign issues, at 71%, has more than tripled since Donald Trump’s election, although it is still lower than any reading for Republicans during the Bush administration. It is on par with the 74% of Democrats who were satisfied with the government’s handling of international problems a year ago under Obama.

The party readings for trust in government’s handling of domestic problems follow a pattern similar to that of international problems. Yet, each party’s loyalists have less trust in the government to handle domestic issues than foreign issues.

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