Why two jobs?
January 23, 2013 10 Comments
On the ‘manosphere’ question of women working. No it does not generally make sense, biologically or financially. Biologically, duh.
Financially? Perhaps there was once a meaningful bump to be gained by having a second income, when few others did. But over time all of our laws and taxes have adjusted to the new expected reality in which both parents work. Hey, you’re both working, great, you can be squeezed more!
Now throw in the situation with child care. This is where the whole equation really breaks down. Mathematically, the whole second-job really only makes sense if one can pay for a full-time nanny (a whole ‘nother person’s salary!) completely out of the after-tax, after-commute-cost, etc. portion of only the lower-earning spouse’s income, and still have some money left over. How much money? Well, how much ‘extra money for the family’ is worth being away for your kids 9 hours per day versus not. Would you make that trade for an extra $2k a year? Huh? No. It would have to be an amount sufficient to give you a meaningful bump in lifestyle, at least 10x that for example (and even then…).
Basically, reverse out that math and it seems to me that unless the second spouse is making at least $100k or so, there’s really no point at all. Depending on where you live (New York) the might-make-sense breakeven for spouse #2 is probably higher – say $150k. And that’s if you can hire a nanny for $20-25k (out of pocket) or so – which you’re not supposed to be able to do of course, given minimum-wage laws and the fact that they’re supposed to be a citizen, and you’re of course paying all taxes, health care, and so on. (Ahem.) Now – wait. What sort of citizen will take 50+ hour/week a job as your nanny for like $16k a year after-tax?
It just doesn’t work.
There is one argument for the second spouse to have a job however, and I think deep down it’s probably often the one that’s really operative: Divorce Insurance. If you get divorced somewhere down the road, and the second spouse hadn’t worked for 10+ years, they’ll be largely unemployable at anything reasonable. Oops. Let’s say it’s the wife; this is bad for her. But it’s ALSO bad for the husband who will end up paying a bunch of alimony.
So basically, all those two-earner families keeping two jobs might be rational, if they’re all doing it on the off chance they get divorced. There’s your happy thought for the day, and you’re welcome.