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In Tough Times, Jobless Men Embrace Housework
Date:8/23/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- From factory workers to bankers, some of the jobless men in what's been dubbed the "mancession" are redefining their masculinity by doing more housework as they support their working partners, a small study suggests.

University of Kansas researcher Ilana Demantas and her colleagues conducted intensive interviews of 19 recently unemployed men. She and her team found that many had redirected their identities as breadwinners into tasks that still allowed them to think positively of themselves -- embracing domestic chores such as child care and housework.

"They totally took what we would consider women's work and made it men's work," said study co-author Kristen Myers, an associate professor of sociology at Northern Illinois University. With a female partner still in the workforce, the men "were also so grateful to have these women in their lives," she added.

For a variety of reasons, including generally higher salaries, men's jobs have been axed disproportionately in the ongoing recession. The disparity was even greater in November 2010 (the time the study was conducted), Myers said. At that point, the male unemployment rate was 10.4 percent vs. 8 percent for women.

The study is scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting in Las Vegas. Research presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Of the 19 men interviewed, 68 percent were white Americans, while 21 percent had emigrated from other countries in hopes of improving their economic prospects. Participants' ages ranged from 26 to 60 and their lost jobs spanned white collar, blue collar and service sector positions.

Annual wages had ranged from $15,000 to $200,000, with most previously earning between $40,000 and $50,000. Twelve of the 19 had a female partner with w
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