Poll Says Majority of Adults are Involved in Relationships with Income Disparities

A new WSJ.com/Harris Interactive Poll found that 8 out of 10 US Adults are involved in relationships with income disparities (gaps between their income). Only ten percent said that they earn the same as their spouse/partner. The results show that women have yet to break the “glass ceiling”, 57% percent of men earn more than their spouse. It’s also interesting to note that 66% of women polled in the same survey say that their spouses/partners earn more than them. In other words, someone here is lying.

These are just some of the results of an online survey of 2,585 U.S. adults conducted by Harris Interactive(R) between February 5 to 7, 2007 for The Wall Street Journal Online.

Harris Interactive and WSJ.com went on to say in their press release today that “Even with these income disparities, nearly 9 out of 10 respondents say they have discussed financial issues with their spouses or partners and more than half have discussed their spending habits and their current savings goals. Respondents over the age of 55 are significantly less likely to have discussed spending habits, debt and household budgets. However, respondents over 55 are more likely to discuss investments and net assets- this is probably due to retirement planning needs. Respondents ages 18-34 are more likely to discuss spending habits, savings, debt, budgets and financial responsibilities.”

Respondents who work part-time and those who are retired are less likely to discuss spending habits with their spouses or partners, while students, who may also be on a limited income, are more likely to discuss spending habits, savings, debt and household budgets. Retired respondents are much more likely to discuss their net assets with their partner than other respondents (60% vs. 42% total). However, even among the retired, only 32% of respondents have discussed their retirement goals and only 54 percent have discussed current investments or investment goals. This may be a by product of generational differences in how finances are addressed.

So, do adults hide financial information from their partners?

Nearly 8 out of 10 respondents have never hidden financial information from their spouses or partners. The most common hidden financial information includes debt and savings/checking accounts. Students and full time/self- employed respondents are more likely to have hidden savings/checking accounts. Women are more likely to hide financial information from their spouses/partners (20% of females vs. 14% of men). Men are less likely to hide debt when compared to the total population (7% vs. 10% of total respondents).

Despite discussions and lack of disagreements, there are still arguments
A quarter of respondents with income disparities claim to have no disagreements over personal/household finances. Nearly four in ten respondents over the age of 55 with income disparities report they have no disagreements over finances with their partner. Respondents in the youngest age bracket with income disparities-18-34 –are most inclined to report that at least half of their disagreements are about money (40% vs. 28% total)

Respondents are almost equally split between those who say they argue about money/finances and those who do not. Among those who argue about finances, respondents argue most about irresponsible spending and not saving enough. Nearly 50 percent of married/partnered respondents claim to not argue about money (compared to 25% of married/partnered respondents with known income disparities).

More male respondents claim to argue about money than female respondents (56% vs. 47%). Additionally, nearly a quarter of male respondents claim to argue about irresponsible spending (compared to 16% of females). Over fifty percent of female respondents claim they do not argue about money (53% of females vs. 44% of males).

TABLE 1A

FINANCIAL DISCUSSIONS – BY AGE “Which of the following financial issues, if any, have you discussed with your spouse/partner?”

Base: Married or Living with Partner

Age
55 and
Total 18-34 35-44 45-54 over
N=1516 N=303 N=341 N=320 N=552
% % % % %
Any (NET) 88 94 86 89 85
Spending habits 63 78 65 67 53
Current savings or savings goals 57 75 55 57 49
The debt we each carry 44 62 49 50 29
Setting and keeping a household
budget 44 61 51 45 31
Financial responsibilities (who
handles what) 43 56 49 40 36
Retirement goals 43 38 46 48 41
Current investments or investment
goals 43 40 37 34 53
Our net assets 42 36 33 36 53
None of these 12 6 14 11 15

Note: Multiple Response Question

TABLE 1B

FINANCIAL DISCUSSIONS – BY INCOME “Which of the following financial issues, if any, have you discussed with your spouse/partner?”

Base: Married or Living with Partner

Income
Less $35K $50K $75K
Than – – and
Total $35K $49.9K $74.9K over
N=1516 N=233 N=163 N=352 N=547
% % % % %
Any (NET) 88 76 90 93 92
Spending habits 63 55 70 73 66
Current savings or savings goals 57 53 65 61 61
The debt we each carry 44 36 50 48 48
Setting and keeping a household
budget 44 45 54 51 43
Financial responsibilities (who
handles what) 43 32 51 42 52
Retirement goals 43 16 39 48 59
Current investments or investment
goals 43 21 45 42 53
Our net assets 42 22 42 49 48
None of these 12 24 10 7 8

Note: Multiple Response Question

TABLE 1C

FINANCIAL DISCUSSIONS – BY EMPLOYMENT STATUS “Which of the following financial issues, if any, have you discussed with your spouse/partner?”

Base: Married or Living with Partner

Employment Status
Full
time/
Self Part Student Retired Unemployed
Total Empl time
N=1516 N=889 N=145 N=76 N=338 N=59
% % % % % %
Any (NET) 88 91 84 94 85 84
Spending habits 63 70 51 83 54 41
Current savings or
savings goals 57 62 56 78 49 36
The debt we each carry 44 55 48 74 25 36
Setting and keeping a
household budget 44 49 40 70 34 45
Financial responsibilities
(who handles what) 43 50 49 64 35 34
Retirement goals 43 49 42 51 32 35
Current investments or
investment goals 43 41 41 48 54 17
Our net assets 42 38 39 38 60 34
None of these 12 9 16 6 15 16

Note: Multiple Response Question
Note: Due to small base size for students and those unemployed, data
should be used directionally.

TABLE 1D

FINANCIAL DISCUSSIONS – BY GENDER “Which of the following financial issues, if any, have you discussed with your spouse/partner?”

Base: Married or Living with Partner

Total Male Female
N=1516 N=779 N=737
% % %
Any (NET) 88 89 87
Spending habits 63 67 60
Current savings or savings goals 57 55 59
The debt we each carry 44 44 44
Setting and keeping a household
budget 44 44 44
Financial responsibilities (who
handles what) 43 45 43
Retirement goals 43 43 44
Current investments or investment
goals 43 43 42
Our net assets 42 46 38
None of these 12 11 13

Note: Multiple Response Question

TABLE 2A
INCOME DISPARITIES – BY EDUCATION
“Who earns more, you or your spouse/partner?”
Base: Married or Living with Partner
Education
H.S. or Some Col.
Total Less Col. Grad+
N=1516 N=253 N=551 N=712
% % % %
Have Known Income Disparities (NET) 83 81 86 82
I earn more than my
spouse/partner. 36 27 37 47
My spouse/partner earns more than
I do. 47 54 48 35
We earn equal amounts 10 11 9 11
I don’t know 1 1 1 *
Decline to answer 6 7 4 6

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
*Less Than 0.5%

TABLE 2B
INCOME DISPARITIES – BY EMPLOYMENT STATUS
“Who earns more, you or your spouse/partner?”

Base: Married or Living with Partner
Employment Status
Full
time/
Self Part Student Retired Unemployed
Total Empl time
N=1516 N=889 N=145 N=76 N=338 N=59
% % % % % %
Have Known Income
Disparities (NET) 83 86 89 92 69 79
I earn more than my
spouse/partner. 36 50 24 34 36 10
My spouse/partner earns
more than I do. 47 37 65 58 33 69
We earn equal amounts. 10 11 6 7 15 8
I don’t know. 1 1 – – 1 3
Decline to answer 6 2 6 – 15 10

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Note: Due to small base size for students and those unemployed, data
should be used directionally.
“-“No Response

TABLE 2C
INCOME DISPARITIES – BY GENDER
“Who earns more, you or your spouse/partner?”

Base: Married or Living with Partner

Total Male Female
N=1516 N=779 N=737
% % %
Have Known Income Disparities (NET) 83 81 84
I earn more than my spouse/partner. 36 57 19
My spouse/partner earns more than
I do. 47 24 66
We earn equal amounts. 10 12 9
I don’t know. 1 1 1
Decline to answer 6 6 6

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 3A
PROPORTION OF FINANCE-INSPIRED DISAGREEMENTS – BY AGE

“What proportion of the disagreements with your spouse/partner involve money or personal/household finances?”

Base: Married or Living with Partner & Have Known Income Disparities

Age
55 and
Total 18-34 35-44 45-54 over
N=1269 N=270 N=300 N=272 N=427
% % % % %
At Least Some Proportion (NET) 75 79 84 79 62
All or most 9 16 6 12 4
About half 19 24 23 22 10
Very few 47 39 55 45 48
None 25 21 16 21 38

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 3B
PROPORTION OF FINANCE-INSPIRED DISAGREEMENTS – BY EMPLOYMENT STATUS

“What proportion of the disagreements with your spouse/partner involve money or personal/household finances?”

Base: Married or Living with Partner & Have Known Income Disparities

Employment Status
Full
time/
Self Part Student Retired Unemployed
Total Empl time
N=1269 N=768 N=122 N=66 N=246 N=47
% % % % % %
At Least Some Proportion
(NET) 75 80 76 70 53 88
All or most 9 11 5 4 5 20
About half 19 22 13 20 6 25
Very few 47 48 59 46 41 43
None 25 20 24 30 47 12

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Note: Due to small base size for students and those unemployed, data
should be used directionally.

TABLE 3C
PROPORTION OF FINANCE-INSPIRED DISAGREEMENTS – BY GENDER

“What proportion of the disagreements with your spouse/partner involve money or personal/household finances?”

Base: Married or Living with Partner & Have Known Income Disparities

Total Male Female
N=1269 N=656 N=613
% % %
At Least Some Proportion (NET) 75 78 72
All or most 9 9 9
About half 19 19 19
Very few 47 50 44
None 25 22 28

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 4A
MONEY-RELATED ARGUMENTS – BY EMPLOYMENT STATUS
“Which one of the following money-related topics do you and your spouse/partner tend to argue about most?”

Base: Married or Living with Partner

Employment Status
Full
time/
Self Part Student Retired Unemployed
Total Empl time
N=1516 N=889 N=145 N=76 N=338 N=59
% % % % % %
Argue About Money Topics
(NET) 51 60 54 60 28 67
Irresponsible spending 19 22 16 37 11 19
Not saving enough 10 11 14 8 4 14
Not paying bills on time 7 8 12 5 4 15
Not consulting with one
another before making a
purchase 6 6 7 3 6 3
Unequal financial
responsibilities 3 5 – 3 1 9
Other 6 7 5 4 2 8
We do not argue about money 49 40 46 40 72 33

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Note: Due to small base size for students and those unemployed, data
should be used directionally.
“-“No Response

TABLE 4B
MONEY-RELATED ARGUMENTS – BY GENDER
“Which one of the following money-related topics do you and your spouse/partner tend to argue about most?”

Base: Married or Living with Partner

Total Male Female
N=1516 N=779 N=737
% % %
Argue About Money Topics (NET) 51 56 47
Irresponsible spending 19 24 16
Not saving enough 10 9 11
Not paying bills on time 7 9 5
Not consulting with one another
before making a purchase 6 7 5
Unequal financial responsibilities 3 3 4
Other 6 5 7
We do not argue about money 49 44 53

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

TABLE 5A

HIDDEN FINANCIAL INFORMATION – BY EMPLOYMENT STATUS “Which of the following types of financial information, if any, have you ever hidden from your spouse/partner?”

Base: Married or Living with Partner

Employment Status
Full
time/
Self Part Student Retired Unemployed
Total Empl time
N=1516 N=889 N=145 N=76 N=338 N=59
% % % % % %
Ever Hidden Financial
Information
From Spouse/Partner (NET) 17 22 18 23 9 10
Credit card or other debt 10 11 11 7 6 8
Savings or checking
accounts 6 8 3 18 4 1
Information regarding
investments 2 2 – – 2 –
Retirement funds 1 1 – – 2 –
A history of bankruptcy 1 1 1 2 – 2
Terms of my will 1 1 – – – 0
Insurance policy 1 1 – 2 – 2
Alimony or child support
payments * * – 1 – –
Other financial
accounts/information 3 4 – 4 1 –
I have never hidden
financial information from
my spouse/partner. 77 7 75 76 85 75
Decline to answer 5 5 7 0 6 15

Note: Multiple Response Question
Note: Due to small base size for students and those unemployed, data
should be used directionally.
“-“No Response
*Less Than 0.5%

TABLE 5B

HIDDEN FINANCIAL INFORMATION – BY GENDER “Which of the following types of financial information, if any, have you ever hidden from your spouse/partner?”

Base: Married or Living with Partner
Total Male Female
N=1516 N=779 N=737
% % %
Ever Hidden Financial Information
From Spouse/Partner (NET) 17 14 20
Credit card or other debt 10 7 12
Savings or checking accounts 6 6 7
Information regarding investments 2 2 1
Retirement funds 1 1 1
A history of bankruptcy 1 1 1
Terms of my will 1 – 1
Insurance policy 1 1 *
Alimony or child support payments * * *
Other financial
accounts/information 3 3 3
I have never hidden financial
information from my spouse/partner. 77 79 76
Decline to answer 5 7 4

Note: Multiple Response Question
“-“No Response
*Less Than 0.5%

Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States between February 5 to 7, 2007 among 2,585 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 1,516 are married or living with a partner. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All surveys are subject to several sources of error. These include: sampling error (because only a sample of a population is interviewed); measurement error due to question wording and/or question order, deliberately or unintentionally inaccurate responses, nonresponse (including refusals), interviewer effects (when live interviewers are used) and weighting.

With one exception (sampling error) the magnitude of the errors that result cannot be estimated. There is, therefore, no way to calculate a finite “margin of error” for any survey and the use of these words should be avoided.

With pure probability samples, with 100 percent response rates, it is possible to calculate the probability that the sampling error (but not other sources of error) is not greater than some number. With a pure probability sample of 2,585 one could say with a ninety-five percent probability that the overall results would have a sampling error of +/-3 percentage points. Sampling error for data based on sub-samples may be higher and may vary. However, that does not take other sources of error into account. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About the Survey
The Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Personal Finance Poll is an exclusive poll that is published in the Personal Journal Edition of The Wall Street Journal Online at www.wsj.com/personaljournal.

About The Wall Street Journal Online
The Wall Street Journal Online at WSJ.com, published by Dow Jones & Company (NYSE:DJ) , is the largest paid subscription news site on the Web. Launched in 1996, the Online Journal continues to attract quality subscribers that are at the top of their industries, with 811,000 subscribers world-wide as of Q4, 2006.

The Online Journal offers three industry-specific verticals: the award- winning Health, Media & Marketing and now Law. Health offers authoritative analysis, breaking news and commentary from top industry journalists. Media & Marketing is designed for professionals in the advertising, marketing, entertainment and media industries. Law is designed to provide law firms and attorneys timely information on events and trends important to the legal market. Subscribers to these verticals also get access to the full content of the Online Journal.

In 2005, the Online Journal was awarded a Codie Award for Best Online News Service for the second consecutive year, and its Health Industry Edition was awarded Best Online Science or Technology Service for the third consecutive year. The Wall Street Journal Online network includes CareerJournal.com, OpinionJournal.com, StartupJournal.com, RealEstateJournal.com and CollegeJournal.com.

About the Financial Services Practice
The Harris Interactive Financial Services Practice provides custom, global research solutions to leading companies in the financial services industry. Research professionals with specific expertise across a range of financial services sectors, including banking, payment systems, securities and investments and insurance, act as strategic partners to their clients. The Financial Services Practice plays a key role in branding initiatives, customer profiling and segmentation, new product development, customer loyalty management, market planning initiatives and studies that support clients as thought leaders. (www.harrisinteractive.com/financial).

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is the 12th largest and fastest-growing market research firm in the world. The company provides innovative research, insights and strategic advice to help its clients make more confident decisions which lead to measurable and enduring improvements in performance. Harris Interactive is widely known for The Harris Poll, one of the longest running, independent opinion polls and for pioneering online market research methods. The company has built what it believes to be the world’s largest panel of survey respondents, the Harris Poll Online. Harris Interactive serves clients worldwide through its United States, Europe and Asia offices, its wholly-owned subsidiary Novatris in France and through a global network of independent market research firms. The service bureau, HISB, provides its market research industry clients with mixed-mode data collection, panel development services as well as syndicated and tracking research consultation. More information about Harris Interactive may be obtained at www.harrisinteractive.com.

To become a member of the Harris Poll Online and be invited to participate in online surveys, register at www.harrispollonline.com.

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