Wives' Employment and Husbands' Attitudes Toward Work and Life

Graham L. Staines, Kathleen J. Pottick, Deborah A. Fudge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Previous research has established that wives' employment has a positive association with the mental health of wives but a negative association with the mental health of husbands. While the latter result is not yet well understood, it may be further investigated by considering the connections between wives' employment and specific domains of husbands' lives, for example, work life and family life. The present study focuses on the work domain. It analyzes data from a national sample of workers and finds that wives' employment has nonspurious negative associations with husbands' job and life satisfaction. Various possible explanations of these negative associations are tested statistically, but only one explanation gains support from the data. Husbands of working wives feel less adequate as family breadwinners than do husbands of housewives, and this appears to account in substantial measure for their lower levels of job and life satisfaction. These findings suggest that the occupational domain is particularly important to understanding the negative relations between wives' employment and husbands' job and life satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-128
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1986

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Wives' Employment and Husbands' Attitudes Toward Work and Life'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this