SAHM and Male Breadwinner selection bias, Christian conservative edition

Due to the hourglassing of male income, the type of guy who can earn enough to support a SAHM is something of an outlier.  Likewise, the kind of woman who is ok with staying home in the first place is no longer conventional in personality because SAHM as a choice is so denigrated and constrained.  Based on American society, it means selecting for more risk-taking men and more antisocial women (or at least women who are more likely to prefer the chronic isolation and find satisfaction in the general encouragement to overwork).

This is just a theory, but it has a fair amount of explanatory value among the conservative Christian pool of households with a SAHM.



7 thoughts on “SAHM and Male Breadwinner selection bias, Christian conservative edition

  1. Around here it is possible to SAHM on one moderate income IF you are willing to adopt the standard of living of a lower-class (or immigrant) dual-income couple. Yet another step away from social normalcy for the SAHM.


  2. Likewise, the kind of woman who is ok with staying home in the first place is no longer conventional in personality because SAHM as a choice is so denigrated and constrained.

    And conservatives will continue to tow the line as the culture moves further left year after year. Feminism is the norm now. Liberal, progressive, or conservative it doesn’t matter. Your all feminists and further left than most of your grandparents. God forbid some indoctrinated woman should deem you inferior for serving your husband and children.


  3. This is true. Where I live, a high cost of living area (Western Canada), one cannot be a SAHM unless you have a high earning spouse. Many Christian homemaker blogs seem to make the point that any family can live on one income by merely being frugal, like cutting cable, driving old cars and forgoing vacations. My family does all these things and still relies on 2 incomes. I work part time. The SAHMs I know, without exception, have high earning husbands. Many middle class women in certain regions are working to help pay for groceries or the rent, not to pay for takeout.


  4. Around here it’s not that weird. But it’s a military town, so there’s that. Every daycare center I visited had openings and the nicest, priciest place was $100 a week, which suggests to me that there are a whole lot of parents just staying home. Which makes sense. Not exactly a wealth of civilian job opportunities going on. But if he’s bringing home a steady paycheck and has comprehensive healthcare benefits… you almost might as well go ahead and have another baby while you’re sitting around twiddling your thumbs out in the middle of nowhere anyway.

    plus, the moves, the deployments, the weird hours… I mean, holding down a steady hourly job gets complicated, let alone advancing in anything resembling a career.

    (I read a paper awhile back where some study tracked military family moves and births and found that more frequent moves were actually associated with higher fertility– the authors hypothesized this was because moves hurt the wives’ careers and reduced the opportunity cost of staying home with a baby. IIRC, they recommended lengthening the rotations to indirectly save the military a boatload on maternity care costs, which I found pretty amusing.)


    • It’s probably going to show up in the finished book instead of as an uncogent blog post, but military SAHMing is different and has its own selection bias going on. It’s good you brought it up, it’s very relevant to the general topic of American SAHMing because it may be a subculture, but it’s also a lot of whiteChristianconservative SAHMs.

      I won’t leave out the US military and its various pros and cons regarding family formation and fertility. I hadn’t gotten into the weeds about it because it could be a full-time blog project all by itself. “Realtalk for the military SAHM”, lol.


      • I will be interested to read it. The military has been my whole life– I was an army brat, then enlisted, then married a servicemember and spent several years as a military spouse/sahm, so I’ve experienced it from a few angles but, sadly, never seem to get much closer to understanding the thing. Both of my siblings spent time in the service– well, virtually everyone I’m close to has some connection to it, come to think.

        I’ve heard people say it’s a strange and messed up “culture” of its own but I suspect that’s like telling a fish that water is really wet. shrug. “Outsiders” often seem to have some ideas about it that are just… totally wrong, to the point where I’m like, well, for good or for ill, I’m not sure where to start with how off-base that is, or how much more complicated it is than you are making it sound. Informed “outside” perspectives are really refreshing to me. James Fallows’ piece in the Atlantic was really good, I thought…


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