Men’s – more than Women’s – Parenthood Identity is Contingent on Work, Harming Well-Being during Unemployment Open Access

Hendrick, Sara (Spring 2023)

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This research examined whether men, more than women, construe their parenthood identity as contingent on work, resulting in worse well-being for men experiencing unemployment. In Study 1, I used a longitudinal dataset of unemployed workers and found that parenthood is more positively associated with life satisfaction for women than men. Follow-up studies revealed that fathers (vs. mothers) construe their parenthood identity as more contingent on work (Studies 2 -3b). In an experiment, fathers experienced lower well-being than mothers when they were thinking about being unemployed (but not otherwise), and this was explained by their higher identity contingency. However, in a correlational design measuring participants’ unemployment threat, I did not replicate this effect. I attribute my null results to a strong economy. Together, this research suggests that mothers – but not fathers – may benefit from their less contingent parenthood identity during unemployment. This work contributes to scholarship on identity, gender, and unemployment. 

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