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Gender ideology, depression, and marital quality in working-class, dual -earner couples across the transition to parenthood

Heather Bourne, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Drawing upon gender- and life-course perspectives, this study addresses a number of conceptual gaps in our understanding of linkages between gender-role ideology, depression, and marital quality across the transition to parenthood. It employs a unique sample of 120 working-class, full-time dual-earner heterosexual couples to (a) explore linkages between marital partners' ideology and their depression, love, and conflict while accounting for the inherent dependence in partners' data; (b) examine effects of spousal concordance/discordance in ideology; and (c) compare the performance of a global gender ideology measure (GRI) versus a measure specific to economic provision roles within a family (PR). Couples were interviewed antenatally (third trimester of pregnancy) and postpartum (six months and one year after their baby's birth). In general, new mothers' greater egalitarianism was found to be associated with women's lower depression and lower marital conflict, whereas new fathers' greater egalitarianism was associated with more marital love. The influence of egalitarianism on men's reported conflict level depended upon the proportion of family income he made. When differences between relationship partners' global gender ideology or provider role views were used to predict outcomes, a different pattern of findings emerged. Women who held more egalitarian provider role views than their male partner reported more love and less relationship conflict than women who held more traditional provider role views than their partner. Men who were more egalitarian than their partner or who held more egalitarian provider role views than her reported lower depression than men who were more traditional than their partner. Findings argue for the importance of considering gender ideology on the dyadic level in addition to the individual level. The two different gender ideology measures (GRI and PR) were generally found to have similar effect sizes, with respective strengths in different contexts. The discussion highlights the need for future research to consider domestic work roles in concert with paid labor roles when conducting family research, as these two concepts are inextricably linked.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Bourne, Heather, "Gender ideology, depression, and marital quality in working-class, dual -earner couples across the transition to parenthood" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3215756.