Men whose partners are the primary earners more likely to suffer illness – study

Men who buck the trend and become stay-at-home dads suffer stress-related illness as a result of this choice, according to a new study

The 21st century has ushered in the dissolution of rigid gender roles. Women now occupy senior positions in big corporations, and an increasing number of men are deciding to take care of the home and the kids while women bring home the bacon.

However, researchers at Rutgers University in America have found that men whose partners are the primary breadwinners are more likely to suffer from conditions such as lung diseases, ulcers and heart disease.

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“Classes that transitioned from husband breadwinning to wife breadwinning in early or later adulthood were associated with the husbands’ poorer overall physical health and risk of cardiometabolic and stress-related diseases,” the study found.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Health and Ageing, tracked about 2000 couples over a 30-year period, and found that these conditions could be linked to the stress that comes with breaking down and challenging gender norms.

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“Violating cultural expectations, such as the masculinity ideal of male breadwinning, is associated with older men’s poorer health,” the study found.

The challenges of being a stay-at-home dad can also lead to anxiety and a sense of isolation. A 2013 study conducted in Denmark, a country known for its progressive outlook in terms of gender, found that stay-at-home dads were more likely to seek medical help for conditions like anxiety and erectile disfunction.

The study found that despite slowly changing gender norms, men still have to negotiate the effects of challenging patricidal gender norms. “Our results suggest that social norms play important roles in dictating how individuals respond to upward social comparisons” the Danish study found.

Source: Journal of Health and Ageing