Being Sole Breadwinner Stresses Men Out More Than Women

Women actually enjoy better mental health when they earn more than their husbands
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2016 7:14 AM CDT
Being Sole Breadwinner Stresses Men Out More Than Women
Steven Paska, 26, center, of Arlington, Va., asks his girlfriend of two years Jessica Deegan, 27, to marry him in Washington on April 10, 2014. Society’s actual gender roles are shifting, with women making up more breadwinners than ever before and more likely than men to earn a college degree.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

It's better for everyone when women earn as much as or more than their husbands. So say researchers at the 111th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Seattle after looking at surveys of 9,000 married young men and women between 1997 and 2011 via the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the researchers report in a press release. "A lot of what we know about how gender plays out in marriage focuses on the ways in which women are disadvantaged," sociologist Christin Munsch at the University of Connecticut says. "Women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence, and they still perform the lion's share of housework. Our study contributes to a growing body of research that demonstrates the ways in which gendered expectations are harmful for men, too."

They found that men who earn more than their wives have poorer health and greater anxiety than men who earn the same amount or less, and the greater the income disparity the greater the effect. Researchers suggest that health outcomes would improve if the men weren't subjected to the "macho breadwinner" paradigm, in which they see their role as an obligation, Live Science reports. "Women, on the other hand, may approach breadwinning as an opportunity or choice," Munsch explains. "Our study finds that decoupling breadwinning from masculinity has concrete benefits for both men and women." She adds that this is good news given more women today earn a greater share of household income. (Women are now the primary or only breadwinner in nearly half of all US households.)

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