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Gender, Parenthood, and Anger

Catherine E. Ross and Marieke Van Willigen
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 58, No. 3 (Aug., 1996), pp. 572-584
DOI: 10.2307/353718
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/353718
Page Count: 13
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Gender, Parenthood, and Anger
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Abstract

We examine how gender inequality in the family affects anger. A sociological model of distress predicts that conditions of inequality and disadvantage result in higher levels of all types of distress. However, most research on gender and parenthood has measured distress with depression and anxiety. Theoretically, anger results from perceptions of social inequality. Using data from a national probability sample of 2,031 adults, we find that women have higher levels of anger than men, that each additional child in the household increases anger, and that children increase anger more for mothers than for fathers. Parenthood introduces two types of objective stressors into an individual's life: economic strains and the strains associated with child care. Women are exposed to both types of strain more than men. Economic hardship, child-care responsibilities in the household, and difficulties arranging and paying for child care all significantly increase anger, and explain the effects of gender and parenthood on anger. In support of a gender inequality perspective, we find that mothers have the highest levels of anger because of economic inequality and the inequitable distribution of parental responsibilities. Mothers also are more likely to express their anger than others. However, expressiveness does not account for differences in anger between men and women or between parents and nonparents.

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