Research Paper Sheffield Economic Research Paper Series 2014004
Gender role identity, breadwinner status and psychological well-being in the household
It is only recently that the psychological concept of identity has entered economic discourse. This paper is concerned with an important aspect of social identity - gender roles within couples. We explore the extent to which compliance with this identity influences individual utility. We consider gender roles and attitudes in a sample from the British Household Panel Survey, within a framework that controls for individual heterogeneity. Our work offers some support for the identity model. Women in ‘traditional’ marriages who accept this role have improved well-being. In couples with ‘modern’ views, women who earn more than their husbands and still have to do most of the domestic work, have lower well-being; this persists if they work part-time and if they report no time pressures. Men who hold traditional views have lower well-being if their wives work; and men who hold modern views on gender roles only have higher well-being if their wives are the higher earner but only work part-time. Our results have implications for the validity of traditional household bargaining models which are largely gender neutral.