Men, Divorce and HappinessPosted May 24th, 2012 by Valerie Young
Some bits of news to slip in before the long holiday weekend , when you’ll surrender to the seductive aroma of the grill and a tall glass of your favorite iced beverage with sunscreen at the ready. Ahhh.
Social scientists have documented men moving into traditionally “pink collar” jobs like nursing and teaching. The pace has accelerated since the recession started, and it is not clear if men will flee primarily female job sectors when employment improves and more jobs become available. Some men report that family obligations played a role in their decision, and the trend is seen across all ethnic groups and ages, even amongst the college-educated. Some say that gender stereotypes are fading, making it easier for men to be receptionists, bank tellers and table servers. Of course, men will earn more, even as they move into female-dominant job sectors, and progress more rapidly, too. For more, see “More Men Enter Fields Dominated by Women.”
It’s no surprise that Americans work more hours than Europeans. We don’t have the same expectations as to paid time off and leisure, and our differing labor policies reflect that. However, it has recently come to light that one reason American women stay in the paid labor force more than others is that divorce rates in this country are considerably higher. Economic researchers suggest women here have an incentive to acquire work experience to insure future economic security in “On Work Hours in the U.S. and Europe. On the other hand, divorce rates do not push the employment rate of American men up. That’s a double standard we don’t often think about.
A new Gallup poll finds that stay at home, out of the paid labor force moms report more sadness and anger than mothers employed outside the home. Of course, there’s no data as to the reason behind the responses, but I would like to pose a hypothetical explanation. Perhaps the women doing it feel the deeply conflicted messages our culture and society heap upon motherhood. To my mind, sadness and anger are appropriate responses when you find the work you feel inspired and compelled to do is demeaned and dismissed as ”unskilled labor”, looked down upon as a “waste” of an education, not worthy of reducing your work hours for, and of making no contribution to the public good. Call me crazy, but that would tick me off too! Do you think the survey is a load of hooey? Do you think my theoretical explanation is?
All right, that’s a wrap – off to the beach. Happy Memorial Day.
‘Til next time,
Your (Wo)Man in Washington
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