Men experience worse psychological and physical health when they are their family’s sole breadwinner.
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Being the sole breadwinner in a marriage negatively impacts the psychological well-being and physical health of men, but not women, new research has found.
For men, more financial responsibility in their marriages lead to lower psychological well-being and health.
Men recorded the lowest scores during years when they were their families’ sole breadwinner.
In these years, men had psychological well-being scores that were 5 percent lower and health scores that were 3.5 percent lower, on average, than in years when their partners contributed equally.
For women, breadwinning had the opposite effect.
Women’s psychological well-being improved as they made greater economic contributions.
Women’s psychological well-being declined as they contributed less relative to their spouses.
Relative income did not affect women’s health
Lead researcher Christin Munsch, an assistant professor of sociology at UConn said:
A lot of what we know about how gender plays out in marriage focuses on the ways in which women are disadvantaged.
Our study contributes to a growing body of research that demonstrates the ways in which gendered expectations are harmful for men too.
Men are expected to be breadwinners, yet providing for one’s family with little or no help has negative repercussions.
Men who make a lot more money than their partners may approach breadwinning with a sense of obligation and worry about maintaining breadwinner status,
Women, on the other hand, may approach breadwinning as an opportunity or choice. Breadwinning women may feel a sense of pride, without worrying what others will say if they can’t or don’t maintain it.
Our study finds that decoupling breadwinning from masculinity has concrete benefits for both men and women
Whereas men’s psychological well-being and health tend to increase as their wives take on more economic responsibility, women’s psychological well-being also improves as they take on more economic responsibility.
The study used data from 1997 – 2011 waves of the US National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.
The study examined household income dynamics on psychological well-being and health in a nationally representative sample of married people between the ages of 18 and 32.
The researchers considered several alternative explanations for their findings, including age, education, absolute income, and number of hours worked per week. However, these variables did not account for their findings.
The study was presented at the 111th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association
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