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Overworking Affects Spouses Differently

Report: Husbands' Long Work Hours May Hamper Wives' Careers
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 1, 2008 -- Long work hours can take a toll on a marriage, and a new report shows that grueling work schedules affect husbands' careers and wives careers differently.

The key finding: When husbands work 50 hours per week or more, their wives are more likely to quit their own jobs, especially if the couple has children and the wife is in a managerial or professional job. But the opposite isn't true -- wives' long hours aren't linked to husbands quitting their jobs.

Youngjoo Cha, a graduate student in sociology at Cornell University, came to that conclusion after crunching numbers from U.S. Census Bureau data for about 514,600 U.S. workers. The data show which workers quit their jobs between 1995 and 2000 -- but not why they quit.

Cha considered the workers' age, education, work experience, occupation, and other factors. The findings held.

Cha argues that although long hours are becoming more common in the workplace for men and women alike, society still emphasize husbands as the primary breadwinners and wives as shouldering more of domestic and familial duties.

Cha is presenting the findings today in Boston at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting.

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