Survey by law firm Withersworldwide sheds light on the worries of the world'f super-rich
What would you do for a bonus?Getty

What's good for the goose apparently also appeals to the gander, according to a Manhattan social researcher, who has discovered a system of year-end "bonuses" provided to wives by successful city money men.

The pay boosts come in all kinds of amounts and agreements — from informal to written pre-nuptial pacts — and are aimed at different kinds of services, which has started some tongues wagging.

They're typically given at the end of the year just like when the men collect, but they tend to be for things such as good household management or getting children into the right schools, according to researcher Wednesday Martin. She first learned of the practice overhearing women in her Upper East Side neighbourhood gabbing about their "year-end" coming in.

That's the lifestyle of what Martin calls the "Glam Shams [glamorous stay-at-home mums], living in a moneyed feminist "back water", she writes in the New York Times. They have college degrees but don't work outside the home. They're into intensive mothering, packing their children's heads with enriching experiences, and sniffing out the best friends and schools. They exercise to a "razor's edge", and run their homes like chief executives, notes Martin.

The bonuses don't compare to the men's of course, Martin discovered in her "study" of 100 Upper East Side Manhattan mothers. Their take is a fraction of their husbands'. They tend to "give away the skills they honed in graduate school and their professions — organising galas, editing newsletters, running the library and bake sales" — for free. And they're left with bragging rights: "I used to work; I can, but I don't need to."

But she finds the women a lot like kept mistresses. "Access to your husband's money might feel good," she writes. "But it can't buy you the power you get by being the one who earns, hunts or gathers it."