Changing gender roles and attitudes and their implications for well-being around the new millennium

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

May 15, 2014


Given evidence that gender role attitudes (GRAs) and actual gender roles impact on well-being, we examine associations between GRAs, three roles (marital status, household chore division, couple employment) and psychological distress in working-age men and women. We investigate time-trends reflecting broader social and economic changes, by focusing on three age groups at two dates.

We used British Household Panel Survey data from 20-64 year olds in heterosexual couple households in 1991 (N=5,302) and 2007 (N=6,621). We examined: levels of traditional GRAs according to gender, age, date, household and employment roles; associations which GRAs and roles had with psychological distress (measured via the GHQ-12); whether psychological distress increased when GRAs conflicted with actual roles; and whether any of these associations differed according to gender, age or date.

Gender traditionalism was lower among women, younger people, those participating in 2007 and in 'less traditional' relationships and households. Psychological distress was higher among those with more traditional GRAs and, particularly among men, for those not employed, and there was some evidence of different patterns of association according to age-group. There was limited evidence, among women only, of increased psychological distress when GRAs and actual roles conflicted and/or reductions when GRAs and roles agreed, particularly in respect of household chores and paid employment

Although some aspects of gender roles and attitudes (traditionalism and paid employment) are associated with well-being, others (marital status and household chores), and attitude-role consistency, may have little impact on the well-being of contemporary UK adults.

Published in

Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 49 , p.791 -809






Open Access article



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