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Men's Economic Dependency, Gender Ideology, and Stress at Midlife

Kim, Joeun / Luke, Nancy

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Abstract

Objective
This study investigates the association between men's economic dependency during midlife and allostatic load, an indicator of chronic stress, and how this relationship varies with men's gender ideology.

Background
Women are primary breadwinners in almost a third of heterosexual couples in the United States. Emerging research finds that female primary breadwinning (or men's economic dependency) is a threat to masculinity that has negative implications for men's midlife health. However, there is no quantitative evidence of the mechanisms linking men's economic dependency and health, particularly the role of stress, and whether men's gender ideology moderates this relationship.

Method
Using two waves of Midlife in the United States data for men who remained with the same marital or cohabiting female partner between waves (N = 332), the authors estimate the relationship between men's economic dependency in Wave 1 and allostatic load in Wave 2.

Results
There was no evidence of an association between men's economic dependency and higher allostatic load on average. However, gender ideology had a moderating influence; men's economic dependency was associated with higher allostatic load for those who espoused more traditional gender attitudes and lower allostatic load for those with the most egalitarian attitudes.

Conclusion
The findings underscore the existence of multiple masculinities and suggest that economic dependence has a negative or positive influence on men's health depending on the meanings men attach to female primary breadwinning.

Issue Date
2020-06
Publisher
Blackwell Publishing Inc.
Keywords(Author)
Gender; Income or Wages; Marriage and Closerelationships; Midlife; Provider Role; Stress
DOI
10.1111/jomf.12615
Journal Title
Journal of Marriage and Family
Start Page
1026
End Page
1040
ISSN
0022-2445
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