BE­ING SOLE BREAD­WIN­NER IS

Cul­tural ex­pec­ta­tions make men think they must be the sole bread­win­ner whereas women see it as an achieve­ment

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE -

The rise of women in the work­place has of­ten been blamed for mak­ing men feel side-lined, emas­cu­lated and un­sure of their role in the fam­ily.

But a new study sug­gests that be­ing the sole bread­win­ner is bad for a man’s men­tal and phys­i­cal health and shar­ing the fi­nan­cial bur­den brings long-term ben­e­fits to well-be­ing.

In con­trast, women’s men­tal health ben­e­fits from be­ing the only provider with their over­all emo­tional health and hap­pi­ness de­clin­ing as they con­trib­uted less to the house­hold.

The US re­searchers con­clude that cul­tural ex­pec­ta­tions have left men view­ing ‘bread­win­ning’ as an obli­ga­tion they must ful­fil, while women see it as an achieve­ment.

“Men who make a lot more money than their part­ners may ap­proach bread­win­ning with a sense of obli­ga­tion and worry about main­tain­ing bread­win­ner sta­tus,” said Dr Christin Mun­sch, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of so­ci­ol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Con­neti­cut.

“Women, on the other hand, may ap­proach bread­win­ning as an op­por­tu­nity or choice. Bread win­ning women may feel a sense of pride, with­out wor­ry­ing what oth­ers will say if they can’t or don’t main­tain it.

“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.”

To find out the link be­tween fi­nan­cial de­pen­dency and over­all health, re­searchers looked at the an­swers of nearly 9,000 peo­ple who took part in the Na­tional Lon­gi­tu­di­nal Sur­vey of Youth be­tween 2007 and 2011.

They found that men’s psy­cho­log­i­cal well-be­ing and health were at their worst dur­ing years when they were their fam­i­lies’ sole bread­win­ner.

In these years, they had psy­cho­log­i­cal well-be­ing scores that were 5 per cent lower and health scores that were 3.5 per cent lower, on av­er­age, than in years when their part­ners con­trib­uted equally.

How­ever bread­win­ning has the op­po­site ef­fect for women when it comes to psy­cho­log­i­cal well-be­ing. Women’s psy­cho­log­i­cal well-be­ing im­proved as they made greater eco­nomic con­tri­bu­tions.

Con­versely, as they con­trib­uted less rel­a­tive to their spouses, their psy­cho­log­i­cal well-be­ing de­clined. Rel­a­tive in­come was un­re­lated to women’s health.

“Our study finds that de­cou­pling bread­win­ning from mas­culin­ity has con­crete ben­e­fits for both men and women,” added Dr Mun­sch.

“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 was pre­sented at the Amer­i­can So­ci­o­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion’s an­nual con­fer­ence.

PHO­TOS BY GETTY IM­AGES

A new study sug­gests that be­ing the sole bread­win­ner is bad for a man’s men­tal and phys­i­cal health and shar­ing the fi­nan­cial bur­den brings long-term ben­e­fits to well-be­ing.

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