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Article Men who act as breadwinners face negative health effects, study finds

Men who act as the primary breadwinners in their marriages are more likely to face psychological and health hurdles, according to a new study that looks at a potential adverse impact of traditional gender roles.

The study, released on Friday by University of Connecticut sociologists, found that as men take on a greater share of economic responsibility in their marriage, they reported greater strains on their wellbeing and health. In years where men in question were their family’s sole breadwinner, their psychological and health outcomes were at their worst.

“Men are expected to be breadwinners, yet providing for one’s family with little or no help has negative repercussions,” said lead author Christin Munsch, professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut.

“A lot of what we know about how gender plays out in marriage focuses on the ways in which women are disadvantaged,” she said. “Our study contributes to a growing body of research that demonstrates the ways in which gendered expectations are harmful for men too.”

But the study also looked at women and found a contrasting psychological outcome. For women, taking on a greater financial responsibility in their marriages had positive effects on happiness and wellbeing.

“Women ... may approach breadwinning as an opportunity or choice,” said Munsch, who co-authored the paper with Matthew Rogers and Jessica Yorks, graduate students at the university. “Breadwinning women may feel a sense of pride, without worrying what others will say if they can’t or don’t maintain it.”

“After all, they have accomplished something rare for their gender,” the study says, about women who are their family’s primary breadwinner. “Should they fail to maintain this status, however, they have less to lose” than men in the same position, based on social expectations.

For decades, the number of US households with men as the primary breadwinner has steadily decreased. Experts attribute this to a number of factors, including changing gender roles in heterosexual marriages, as well as increasing numbers of women in the workforce.

The decrease of male breadwinners overall is also related to a greater number of single mother households, which according to a 2013 Pew Research Center studyaccounts for some two-thirds of the 40% of US households with children where the primary breadwinner was a woman.

Men who act as breadwinners face negative health effects, study finds | Money | The Guardian


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