Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2019 - , University of Essex

How does unemployment affect the well-being of one's partner? And does gender matter?

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Day:Wed 3 Jul
  • Andrew Bryce, University of Sheffield

This paper uses 25 waves of the British Household Panel Study and Understanding Society harmonised dataset to construct a long panel of mixed gender couples in the UK. I explore how employment status affects not only one's own well-being but also that of one's partner. Using a random effects seemingly unrelated regression model controlling for household income and one's own employment status, I find that both men and women are in general worse off when their partner is unemployed. However, these spill-over effects have a stronger impact on life satisfaction than mental health (measured by the General Health Questionnaire), while women are more sensitive than men to their partner's employment status. Men are found to be indifferent to their partner's unemployment in terms of their mental health. Moreover, the mental health of men improves when their partner is not participating in the labour force while this has the opposite effect for the women themselves, suggesting potential conflict. These effects are in part explained by the extent to which men profess having egalitarian attitudes, although it is likely that some residual gender identity concerns affecting both women and men are driving these results.