Over 3 in 10 Millennial and Gen X Women Are Primary Breadwinners for Family

Over 3 in 10 Millennial and Gen X Women Are Primary Breadwinners for Family

Despite lack of confidence, many seek to grow financial knowledge
A business woman

Today’s women continue to break long-held gender roles and stereotypes — even with a global health crisis, additional family and household responsibilities and career setbacks thrown into the mix.

A study from Wells Fargo found that younger women are financially contributing more to their households than those of previous generations. Over 3 in 10 (32%) of millennial and Generation X women revealed that they were the primary breadwinner in their partnership, compared to 20% of baby boomer and traditionalist women.

However, the report also showed that, despite the greater financial power these women wielded, many of them still lacked confidence in their financial skills and knowledge.

Women report lack of confidence, knowledge in financial topics

Wells Fargo found that 54% of all partnered women in the study earned just as much, if not more, than their spouse.

However, the increased buying power hasn’t done much for the financial confidence of many of these high-earning younger women. Nearly 2 in 5 (39%) of millennial and Gen X respondents found financial concepts intimidating, while another 21% don’t have time to build their financial knowledge.

A previous study found that more women have taken on most of the household and child care duties during the pandemic compared to their male partners, which may explain why the younger female participants in this survey lack the time needed to build their financial skills.

And because of the anxiety centered around this financial uncertainty, almost one-third of millennial and Gen X women have reported losing sleep at night.

Challenges motivate women to increase financial knowledge

Findings from the Wells Fargo survey show that, even with these challenges, women understand the power their funds give them. Nearly half of all millennial and Gen X participants (47%) realize that they need financial advice now more than ever.

As a result, they’re now looking to grow their financial knowledge and work with an advisor who can offer them comprehensive financial guidance.

A Fidelity survey from last year found that 36% of women have begun educating themselves on financial topics since the start of the pandemic.

Additionally, 75% of millennial and Gen X women in the Wells Fargo study said that talking through their finances with a financial advisor would prove helpful. Compared to older generations, more of these women also want to bring their work, family and health into the financial conversation.

Despite the obstacles presented by the pandemic, this crisis also marks a turning point as women seek more control over their financial health and well-being.

Methodology: From Jan. 4-18, 2021, Versta Research and Wells Fargo carried out an online national survey of 2,195 women and 1,035 men.

Survey respondents included 1,680 women who reported household assets of $250,000 or more and 515 women between 25 and 40 years old with fewer assets but a household income of $100,000 or more. For comparison purposes, the survey also included another group of 1,084 Americans with less household assets and income.

Participants were stratified by assets and income, then weighted to 2019 population estimates from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances.

  • Generations were defined as follows:
  • Millennial (born 1981-1996)
  • Gen X (born 1965-1980)
  • Baby boomer (born 1946-1964)
  • Traditionalists (born 1928-1945)

Feli Oliveros is a finance and business writer with experience covering personal finance, small business finance, and payment processing. In 2015 she graduated from UCLA, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English and minored in Anthropology.