Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Tammy Allen, Ph.D.

Keywords

Division of household labor, Paid labor, Person-environment fit, Dual-earner couples, Dual-career couples, Work-family management, Career prioritization

Abstract

Significant shifts in social ideology and legislation have brought about considerable changes in work and family dynamics in the Western world, and the male as breadwinner-wife as homemaker model is no longer the norm. However, despite increasingly gender egalitarian ideals, the division of labor among dual-earner couples tends to adopt a "neo traditional" once children are born, where women devote more time to family labor and men spend more time in paid employment Although asymmetrical divisions of labor have clear workplace and societal consequences in terms of women's earnings, organizational advancement, and inequality, the effects on individual well-being are not well understood.

The purpose of the present study was to apply the theoretical lens of person-environment fit to examine how misfit between dual-earner couples' pre-child division of labor preferences and post-child actual divisions of labor relate to affective (career, marital, and family satisfaction) and health-related (depression and physical health symptoms) well-being. Additionally, several conditions were posited to temper the strengths of these relationships (domain centrality, gender, voice in division of labor decision making, and satisfaction with the current division of labor). Participants were 126 dual-earner couples with small children, and hypotheses were testing using polynomial regression analyses. The results suggested that congruence between an individual's own pre-child desires for the division of paid labor and the actual post-child division of paid labor relates to his/her own career and marital satisfaction, depression, and physical health symptoms.

Congruence in the family domain is also important, as desire-division of family labor fit related to affective sentiments toward family and one's spouse. With the exception of career satisfaction, these relationships were curvilinear, such that deviations in either direction from perfect fit related to poorer well-being. On the other hand, there was little evidence for spousal effects, as dual-earner well-being did not relate the congruence between division of labor abilities and spousal demands. Finally, evidence of moderation was only found in a few cases, and none were consistent with prediction, highlighting the need for future research on the contextual conditions of P-E fit in the dual-earner context.

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