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Working Wives Still Expected to Do It All, Study Finds

Women whose husbands work 60 hours or more a week often quit their own jobs, researchers say

SATURDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- If your husband works more than 60 hours a week, watch out: His commitment to work could hurt your career, research suggests.

A new study finds that women with husbands who work a lot have less time for their own jobs because they're expected to pick up the slack at home in regard to housework and child care.

Cornell University doctoral candidate Youngjoo Cha published her findings in the April edition of American Sociological Review after studying U.S. Census Bureau data on 8,484 white-collar workers and 17,648 blue-collar workers from families in which both spouses work.

A woman is 42 percent more likely to quit if her husband works 60 hours or more a week, the study found, and the likelihood is 51 percent higher among professional women. Among professional women who had children, the odds jump to 112 percent.

But the reverse wasn't true: Having a wife who worked that much didn't boost the risk that a husband would quit -- whether or not he was a parent.

"As long work hours introduce conflict between work and family into many dual-earner families, couples often resolve conflict in ways that prioritize husbands' careers," Cha said. "This effect is magnified among workers in professional and managerial occupations, where the norm of overwork and the culture of intensive parenting tend to be strongest. The findings suggest that the prevalence of overwork may lead many dual-earner couples to return to a separate spheres arrangement -- breadwinning men and homemaking women."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has details on handling stress from things like overwork.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Cornell University, news release, April 1, 2010

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