Traditional gender roles have been shifting over the past few decades and that’s probably for the best. Not just because society’s expectations for a binary gender system are outdated, but because it might be bad for you.
At least, that’s according to a new study to be presented by University of Connecticut sociologists at the 111th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) on Sunday. The research primarily states that having the man in a heterosexual, nuclear family be the sole breadwinner is detrimental to him, causing a decrease in psychological well-being and health.
Conversely, the study also suggests that if women are the sole breadwinners in this situation, the effect is the opposite, as their well beings improved.
While the paper hasn’t been published yet in a peer-reviewed journal, it does pose some interesting ideas based on survey data collected between 1997 to 2011 from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Researchers, led by Christin Munsch, an assistant professor of sociology at UConn, recorded data on the same group of married men and women over this time period. In the years where men were the sole breadwinners of a family, their well-being scores decreased by five percent and their health scores decreased by 3.5 percent on average.
“Men who make a lot more money than their partners may approach breadwinning with a sense of obligation and worry about maintaining breadwinner status,” Munsch said in a press release.
“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.”
Researchers also tried to take into account other factors such as age, education, and total income, but found that they had no impact on the findings.
In general, the paper has some holes. It doesn’t take into account the experiences of same-sex or nontraditional couplings, for starters. But it raises some points in regards to gender roles, and how detrimental they can be, not just for women, but for men as well.
Another study published this year by Harvard University also suggested there could be negative consequences associated with these kinds of roles, as there appears to be a correlation between a man’s employment status and the rates of divorce. Marriages were around one-third more likely to end with a split if the husband wasn’t employed.
“Men are expected to be breadwinners, yet providing for one’s family with little or no help has negative repercussions,” Munsch stated.
Although in the end, maybe we should just do what we want, but also contribute to our households equally, no matter the circumstances. Basically, don’t be a dick. [American Sociological Association]