Being breadwinner: Why it weighs on men’s health

Being the main breadwinner harms a man’s health, a new study found. Slipping into the role had a positive impact on women.

Being breadwinner: Why it weighs on men’s health

Men are traditionally expected to be a family’s main breadwinner. But this role could hurt their health, a study by the University of Connecticut suggests.

Sociologists looked at data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, involving 9,000 participants who were 12 to 16 years of age.

They answered questions on their outlook on life and job status. These participants responded to the same questions every year for two decades now.

Married men who took on the role of breadwinner – bearing most of the financial responsibilities – reported a toll on psychological health. The stress had affected their well-being, according to The Guardian.

“A lot of what we know about how gender plays out in marriage focuses on the ways in which women are disadvantaged,” said lead author Christin Munsch, a professor of sociology at the university.

“Our study contributes to a growing body of research that demonstrates the ways in which gendered expectations are harmful for men too,” she said.

When women participants started to contribute financially, they felt happy and had a positive outlook.

“Breadwinning women may feel a sense of pride, without worrying what others will say if they can’t or don’t maintain it,” the study found.

“Should they fail to maintain this status, however, they have less to lose,” it added.

School teacher Matt Mehrhoff, 31, tried to explain the phenomena. He has taken on the role of primary breadwinner, such as the period following his son’s birth.

“I’m not sure if it has to do with my gender, but after getting a better paying job and having a newborn, I definitely feel more pressure,” Mr Mehrhoff explained.

“As I have been able to pay a larger share of family bills, I feel a stronger need to continue to do so or pay an even bigger share to be able to take some of the pressure off of my spouse,” he said.

Check out The Guardian for more.

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