The new study, which will be presented this weekend at the American Sociological Association’s annual conference in Seattle, looked at 15 years of data on married people between the ages of 18 and 32 from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. “The data definitely seems to indicate that, in general, as men take responsibility for greater and greater shares of the couple’s pooled income, they experience declines in their psychological well-being and health,” says the lead author Christin Munsch, an assistant professor of sociology at University of Connecticut.
The data suggests that men are at their lowest when they are their families’ only breadwinner. That’s when happiness scores fall to 5% lower and health scores 3.5% lower, on average, than when both partners pitch in equally.
For women, carrying a heavier financial load has the opposite effect. As they earn more their psychological wellbeing rises. And when they earn less, they feel worse. Unlike the men, women’s health didn’t seem to be affected by their earning status within the family.