Business woman (4)

Women are the primary breadwinners in more than half the households in the UK, according to new research.

Fifty-six per cent of more than 2,500 co-habiting couples surveyed by said that the female brought home a bigger salary than the man, averaging £3,500 per year more.

The figures come as somewhat of a surprise, given the size of the gender pay gap in the UK. Official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the gap was 9.4% in 2015, having 'barely changed' over the previous four years.

Of those surveyed, 67% of the women had a degree, with less than half (49%) holding the same qualification.

Nearly six in ten (58%) of the couples where the women earns more than the man said that it causes problems in their relationship. More than a third (37%) said they argue regularly about it, with 44% saying the male felt emasculated by the women earning more. And 19% said the male was actively looking for a new job to earn at least the same amount of the women.

George Charles of said: “There’s always a stigma that the male is the main earner of households, which is of course an extremely traditional and outdated way of thinking. The fact is, though, that times are changing and it is commonplace for women to take over the role of main breadwinner.

"Our results show this and also show the benefit of having a degree. More women in our study had degrees than men, with more women also being the breadwinner. This points towards a trend of employers searching for and rewarding candidates with degrees.”