Men lose life satisfaction with fewer hours in employment: mothers do not profit from longer employment – evidence from eight panels

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

November 15, 2020


This article uses random and fixed effects regressions with 743,788 observations from panels of East and West Germany, the UK, Australia, South Korea, Russia, Switzerland and the United States. It shows how the life satisfaction of men and especially fathers in these countries increases steeply with paid working hours. In contrast, the life satisfaction of childless women is less related to long working hours, while the life satisfaction of mothers hardly depends on working hours at all. In addition, women and especially mothers are more satisfied with life when their male partners work longer, while the life satisfaction of men hardly depend on their female partners’ work hours. These differences between men and women are starker where gender attitudes are more traditional. They cannot be explained through differences in income, occupations, partner characteristics, period or cohort effects. These results contradict role expansionist theory, which suggests that men and women profit similarly from moderate work hours; they support role conflict theory, which claims that men are most satisfied with longer and women with shorter work hours.

Published in

Social Indicators Research

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 152 , p.317 -334






Open Access

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit



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