The Balance of Domestic Power

This won’t be stop-the-presses news for most men, but women “call the shots at home.” So concludes a new report from the Pew Research Center, analyzing data collected in June and July. When asked to divulge who has the final say about making major purchases for the home, 21 percent of men said “mostly me,” while 27 percent said “mostly my spouse/partner.” Forty-six percent said “we decide together,” and the rest gave some other answer or declined to respond. Women were even more likely to say they’re the ones with final say about these decisions: 33 percent said “mostly me,” vs. 17 percent saying “mostly my spouse/partner.”

A plurality of men view themselves as the ones making final decisions on household finances, but their spouses/partners tend to see matters differently. While 37 percent of men think they hold sway in this area (vs. 30 percent saying their spouse/partner does), 45 percent of women see themselves wielding decisive power (vs. 23 percent saying their spouse/partner does). Most of the rest said they “decide together.”

Men were more apt to acknowledge their mate’s lead role in “choosing shared weekend activities.” While 17 percent said the decider here is “mostly me,” 26 percent said it’s “mostly my spouse/partner.” That jibes with the answers of female respondents: 30 percent “mostly me” vs. 15 percent “mostly my spouse/partner.”