(Wall Street Journal) — A longstanding marketing adage makes clear who holds most American households’ purse strings: Women control 80% or more of spending. For at least two decades, this number has been a fixture of news articles, marketing websites and books about consumer behavior. And as with many oft-repeated statistics, no one is sure where it originated. ”It’s very hard to get to the bottom of the numbers,” says Maddy Dychtwald, co-author of “Influence: How Women’s Soaring Economic Power Will Transform Our World for the Better,” published last year with the claim that “women are responsible for 83 percent of consumer purchases in the United States.” Ms. Dychtwald adds, “This is muddy terrain.” In addition to having murky origins, the number appear to be wrong. Several recent surveys suggest that men have nearly equal say on spending, and that when men and women live together, both participate in spending decisions.
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