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Survey gives baby boomers information on who makes the decisions at home and which gender is preferred in seven jobs

It’s women who are the “deciders” at home, but people are mixed on whether they’re more comfortable working with men or women in positions of authority.

Women call the shots at home

In 43 percent of couples interviewed, it's the woman who makes decisions in more areas than the man, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Men make more of the decisions in about a quarter of the couples. And about three-in-ten couples split decision-making responsibilities equally.

The survey also asked whether people are more comfortable dealing with a man or with a woman in positions of authority – doctor, banker, lawyer, police officer, airline pilot, schoolteacher, and surgeon.

Men are preferred in some jobs and women in others

Attitudes are mixed. Among respondents who have a preference, men are favored in some roles – airline pilot, surgeon, police officer, and lawyer. Women are preferred in others -- elementary school teacher and banker. The results were evenly divided about whether the family doctor should be a man or a woman.

Some jobs have no gender preference

However, for the seven positions, many say they have no gender preference – ranging from the 33 percent who say this about teachers to the 54 percent who say it about surgeons.

Older couples are more like to share equally in family decision making

The survey finds that age makes a difference when it comes to decision making and consensus-building at home. Men and women 65 or older are twice as likely as those under the age of 30 to say they and their partner share equally in making family decisions.

However, income doesn't make as much difference. In dual-income couples, it’s the woman who has more say, regardless of whether she earns more or less than her partner.

A total of 2,250 adults were interviewed by telephone for the survey, including 1,260 who were married or living with a partner.

See the survey to learn who makes the big household purchases, who handles the budget, and who controls the TV remote. Statistics also are available on shared decision-making and money and power in the home.

Copyright 2008, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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carol stanley

This decision making is interesting..and I think it changes as situations occur...Sometimes I am primary decision maker and sometimes my husband is..Usually we discuss whatever it is..particularly if it has to do with money.


Congratulations. Shared decision making is healthy for families.


Beverly Mahone

I don't know if I agree with the survey. I mean, my husband and I make joint decisions. Even if it's a major decision about my business, I will consult him before I do anything because I know he has sound judgment.


Hi Beverly,

I think baby boomers have changed things since they first burst onto the scene. My dad made most of the decisions when I was growing up. I think things have really changed in that regard, but not as much in the workplace.


Mona Robison

Any data on same sex couples?


Hi Mona,

Thanks for the comment. I looked at the article releasing information about the study to see if data was collected for same sex couples. I didn't see anything there. I'll e-mail the Pew Research Center to see if they collected data on decision making for same sex couples in the study.


Sue – Retired Boomer Decider

I'm the “decider” but my husband would not admit it.

Here’s our boomer retirement in Mexico story.

Eight short years ago, when the dotcom bubble was bursting in and around us in Silicon Valley, California, my husband and I decided to do something different.

We decided to shutter our business in Silicon Valley and check out of the rat race for a while and travel Mexico. We were your classic workaholic professional couple and had not had a 10 day vacation in more than 18 years!

During our three month trip, we wound up buying a fabulous modern Mexican villa on the shores of Lake Chapala. There is a decent sized English speaking expat population in the village of Ajijic.

We came home with the plan to sell our Los Gatos abode and get out of Dodge. Which we did.

We packed up and moved to Mexico.

We are sooo glad we did what we did and have not looked back.

The Lake Chapala area has a great quality of life and we can live on one social security check because of the great cost of living with out scrimping.

We live in a Modern Mexican home with over 3,000 square foot construction and per year pay under $100.00 US in property taxes (garbage pick up 6 days a week included).

We own two homes out right without mortgages. All of this may sound like wealth. But trust me we are very middle class that found a way out.

Happily Retired Boomer in Ajijic, Mexico,

Sue Weiss
Casa Preciosa, Ajijic, Mexico


Hi Sue,

It sounds like you and your husband made some good decisions about your boomer retirement.


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