Last Saturday at my ward’s Christmas party, I was discussing my recent post on well-pursued careers with a friend. While summarizing the post, I brought up my refutation of the notion that nobody wishes on their deathbed that they’d spent more time at the office; the refutation goes like this: plenty of people die wishing that they had provided better for their family or that they could leave more behind.

Her response to this was to the effect of, “Well, that’s a very male perspective. Many men may feel that way on their death bed, but women are certainly not likely to. They’re more inclined to think about family-related concerns.”

I thought this was a fascinating statement. She’s an exceptionally well-educated woman, and I would ask her to write a guest-post for us about it, but I’ve already asked her to blog here and she said no.

So what does one say to her statement that women are not likely to wish that they’d provided better monetarily for their family? Is this a basically sexist view? Or is it the result of sexism? If it is the result of sexism, then should women on their deathbed be wishing that they provided better for their children?

[added: I should note that I believe that my friend is correct in her observation, and I’m asking this because I expect that people will either (a) disagree with me about the kinds of regrets men might have, (b) disagree with her about the kinds of regrets that women might have, or (c) disagree with both of us on some other grounds. I’ve seen a strong tendency among bloggernacle participants to eschew proposals for non-sexist bases for gender differences in worldly pursuits.]

I certainly don’t have any answers, but thinking about this brought to mind a few facts relating to income disparities that Thomas Sewell mentions in his book Knowledge and Decisions: On average, single women have earned more than single men for decades. Married women (on average) earn less than single women. Married men (on average) earn more than all of them.

Regarding the disparity between single men and married men, I have two anecdotes. First, a non-married friend was offered a job that provided about a 50% raise, and he turned it down because he didn’t feel like moving. I do not believe that he would have responded this way if he were married. It’s my belief that if he were married, he would have been much more likely to be motivated to move into the substantially higher income bracket. Second, from a managerial point of view, it’s my experience that married men make better employees than single men. They work more regular hours, their habits are more consistent, and (most importantly) they take much stronger ownership of assignments. In general, I’d say that they tend to be more motivated than their unmarried counterparts.