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Dividing Work, Sharing Work, and In-Between: Marriage Patterns and Depression

Catherine E. Ross, John Mirowsky and Joan Huber
American Sociological Review
Vol. 48, No. 6 (Dec., 1983), pp. 809-823
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095327
Page Count: 15
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Abstract

Marriages in the United States are shifting from the complementary type, in which the husband is employed and the wife cares for the household and children, to the parallel type, in which both spouses are employed and both are responsible for the housework. This change, however, is far from complete. Disjunctions in the institution of marriage may be stressful and emotionally disturbing. We hypothesize that the effect of a wife's employment on her depression and her husband's depends on their preferences for her employment and on whether the husband helps with the housework. Using data from a national sample of 680 couples interviewed in 1978, we find that both spouses are less depressed when the wife's employment status is consistent with their preferences. Also, wives are less depressed if their husbands help with the housework, and husbands are not more depressed as a result of helping. These factors lead to the highest depression in transitional marriages. The lowest depression is in parallel marriages.

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