One in three women in relationships are financially dependent on their partner

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
May 05, 2021, 9:25 AM UTC

A similar figure say they would not manage well financially if they split up with their significant other

New YouGov data shows that in many couples women rely on their partner to get by financially – even if they work full-time themselves – while among men it’s much rarer.

Around a third of all women with a partner are entirely (6%) or somewhat (29%) dependent on their other half. This is only true for 11% of men with a spouse, including just 3% who are completely reliant on the other.

Around half of people in couples - 53% of men and 48% of women – say neither person is financially dependent on the other.

Women who work full-time are less likely to be financially reliant on their partner, but even still a fifth (21%) are, compared with 7% of their male counterparts.

However, it is also more common among women in this group to be the main provider, with one in six (18%) saying their partner relies on them to some degree or fully. But this is still only half the rate as among men with a spouse and who work full-time (36%).

One in five women in full-time work are financially dependent on their partner

Over two in five part-time working women with a partner (43%) rely on them to get by financially. While men are less likely to work part-time, among those who do and who are in a relationship, 16% depend on their partner. In contrast, a quarter (25%) still say they provide for their partner too, compared with 7% of part-time working women with a spouse.

Around a third of retired women with a spouse (35%) depend on their partner to some extent, while the same is true for 9% of men in the same situation. 

Money more likely to matter in a break up for women

As women are less likely to be financially independent, this also means they are more likely to be in a worse position should their marriage or relationship end.

Over one in three women with a partner (35%) say they would not manage very (21%) or not at all well (14%) if they split up tomorrow. The figure rises to around 59% of women who are financially dependent on their other half, including three in ten (29%) who say they would not cope well at all.

While this is not uncommon among men with partners either, the figure is lower at around a quarter (24%), including 7% who say they wouldn’t cope well at all. While men who rely on their partner financially are a much smaller group, they are also less likely to say a split would harm their finances – and to the same severity. Around half (51%) say they would not manage well financially, of whom 17% say they would not fare well at all.

When it comes to the work involved in managing finances such as paying bills and managing accounts, there’s no clear gender divide in how couples split the work. But both men and women in relationships are more likely to insist they do most or all of the work than to say their partner does it.

While around two fifths – 45% of men and 41% of women in a couple – say they split the responsibilities equally, similar proportions claim to do most or all of the work themselves (38% of men vs 43% of women). Suspiciously, only 14% and 16% concede that their partner mainly does it.

Similarly, both genders are more likely to say they’re better with money than their partner. Around a third of people in relationships – 32% of men and 35% of women – are of this opinion, while only 21% of men and 16% of women say their other half is the more sensible. The remainder (43% of men, 47% of women) say they’re equally good with money.

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