Unemployment Psychologically Worse for Married Men

In a study to be published in the American Journal of Sociology, it seems that men are more likely to seek a divorce from their wives due to being unemployed and living with a working spouse, than their female counterparts. In an article that appeared in today’s Daily Mail, “even men who are relatively happy in their marriages are more likely to leave if they are out of work.” It was found that this is due to the immense pressure on the men to be breadwinners although on the flip side there is less pressure “discouraging women from working outside the home.”

Employment and Marriage

The study was conducted by scientists who took a look at the impact employment status has on male and female’s decisions to end a marriage. Ohio State University researcher Liana Sayer, who headed the study, found “a women's employment status has no effect on the likelihood that her husband will opt to leave the marriage.” On the flip side, there is a greater chance that a woman who is working will “initiate a divorce,” than one who is not working but only in cases where she is anyway unhappy with the marriage. With men, women are more likely to initiate a divorce if they are unemployed as will they. Somewhat surprisingly, it was found that even those men who were reported being “content in their personal lives,” were still likely to leave, once becoming unemployed.

Gender Role Changes

Ultimately the research concluded that there has been an “asymmetric change in traditional gender roles in marriage.” The fact that men who aren’t working are more likely to initiate divorce (whether or not they are happy in their marriage), “suggests that a marriage in which the man does not work ‘does not look like what men think a marriage is supposed to’.” And this just isn’t the case for their female counterparts.


James Fishman has been involved in the world of online magazines for more than 15 years. He helped launch Sunstone Online and continues to improve the magazine as site editor and administrator. His writing focuses primarily business and technology. To be in touch with James, feel free to contact him at james[at]sunstoneonline.com.

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