Do More Egalitarian Men Experience Less Union Dissolution? Reconsidering Men's Roles in Gender Theories of Family Change

Barbara Okun
Liat Raz-Yurovich, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Matanel Ben-Avi, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Proponents of gender revolution theory argue that as men become more egalitarian in their gender role attitudes, and as they share housework more equally, their female partners experience reduced work-family conflict, and couples enjoy happier, more stable partnerships (Goldscheider et al. 2015). Based on the “flip side” argument (Okun & Raz-Yurovich 2019), this research suggests that the consequences of men’s increased domestic labor for their own experiences may differ from those of their female partners, and may negatively affect their own feelings of relationship satisfaction. At the couple level, the effects on men’s experiences may counterbalance effects on union stability stemming from women’s increased relationship satisfaction. Given these differing perspectives, we ask: In couples where men have more egalitarian gender role attitudes and do more housework, are unions more stable? Does each partner feel more satisfied with the relationship, and perceive it to be more cohesive? We follow cohabiting and married couples using panel data from the British Understanding Society survey (2009-2016). We reconstruct full partnership histories in order to identify couples in first union, as well as those whose first unions subsequently dissolve – information not directly available in the data. Findings show mixed support for gender revolution theory – on the one hand, men’s egalitarian gender role attitudes are positively associated with their own relationship satisfaction; on the other hand, men’s egalitarianism does not carry over into reduced risks of union dissolution. Rather, consistent with the “flip-side” approach, men’s greater housework contributions increase the risk of union dissolution.

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 Presented in Session 100. Union Dissolution 2