Marriage and Money

Life Insurance for Breadwinners and Stay-at-Home Parents

Read this article for common reasons to purchase life insurance, such as for income replacement, and see speculation on whether males or females need the insurance more.

Battle of the Sexes: Who Needs Quality Life Insurance Benefits More?

Before we can determine who needs the most life insurance, we first need to know why people buy life insurance. Below are four common reasons for purchasing quality life insurance, paired with some friendly speculation on who, in the battle of the sexes, may need it more.

Reason one: income replacement insurance

One of the most common reasons to buy quality life insurance is to protect those who depend on your income. If you're the primary breadwinner of your family, you want to know that your spouse and dependents would be okay without your paycheck.

Historically, men have been the ones to provide financially for their households. In fact, back in 1960, 89 percent of American families with children relied on a male breadwinner. That said, it's no longer rare for women to earn the primary income. A Pew Research study showed that as of 2011, four in 10 households with children under 18 rely on women (including both single and married mothers) to pay the bills.

While men still represent the majority of primary breadwinners in the U.S., the gap between the sexes is assuredly closing.

Reason two: domestic logistics

Keeping house can be a thankless job. Yet stay-at-home spouses are indispensable, providing the childcare, meal prep, transportation, housework and domestic decision-making that keep a home running. When you quantify what it would cost to hire others to perform those tasks, the financial importance of a stay-at-home spouse becomes very clear.

Historically, it's fallen to women to keep house, but as we've seen above, times have changed. In many families, men are shouldering the domestic duties today, and we live in an era where a man can be proud to call himself a “house husband.” The verdict on this one is clear: Regardless of gender, the stay-at-home parent needs quality life insurance.

Reason three: debt resolution

Who's more likely to carry big debts, men or women? gives that prize to men, reporting that “men carried 4.3 percent more debt than women. Their mortgages also were 4.9 percent higher than home loans taken out by women.” They go on: “Women tended to use less available credit on their credit cards than men.”

But suggests it's not that simple: “Women tend to have more debt than men throughout their lives, beginning in early adulthood. Studies show gender income inequality coming into play in the first year after graduating from college.” So while women may be statistically less likely to incur heavy debts, due to the wage gap, they may be less able to make progress on the debt that they do have.

Here's the bottom line: If a man or a woman carries debt and also has quality life insurance, the death benefit may be used to help pay off debt so survivors don't have to bear that burden alone.

Reason four: funeral expenses

On average, women live longer than men1. In this arena, quality life insurance may be more important for men, as they're statistically more likely to be survived by a spouse.

But when it comes to funeral expenses, it's a wash. We're all 100 percent likely to die at some point, and no matter who survives you, the costs of a funeral are typically steep - seven to ten thousand dollars' on average. That goes for both men and women!

All told, people's needs for final expense life insurance are varied and complex, and no matter which gender you happen to be, your needs probably can't be pigeon-holed into a “male” or “female” box. So be on the lookout for an insurance provider who will take your goals seriously and offer a policy specific to your situation.


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All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Learning Center articles may describe services and financial products not offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries. Descriptions of financial products contained in Learning Center articles are not intended to represent those offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Neither Protective Life nor its representatives offer legal or tax advice. We encourage you to consult with your financial adviser and legal or tax adviser regarding your individual situations before making investment, social security, retirement planning, and tax‐related decisions. For information about Protective Life and its products and services, visit

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Quality Life Insurance

Roles for both men and women have changed over the past several decades. Many of us are taking on different roles in supporting and running households. When it comes to finding quality life insurance coverage that meets your family's individual needs, look for an insurer who considers your situation. Getting quality life insurance means protecting those who depend on you the most. Be sure you and your insurance company are on the same page. For more information, visit our learning center.