Gender differences in the effect of unemployment on psychological distress

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


In this paper we examine whether unemployment has a differential impact on the expression of psychological distress among men and women. Based on the traditional centrality of the work role to men and the family role to women, we defined several key domains that might affect unemployed men and women differentially: family circumstances, concerns and worries about children and family; coping responses; social support and social integration; and the centrality of the work role. While the study population either were or hoped to be in the labor force and had dependent children, they varied in their marital status and whether they were the custodial parent. Using data collected in Baltimore from those who had been unemployed but had returned to work, those who had remained continuosly unemployed for a year, and those who had been continuously employed, we compared the patterns of men's and women's reactions to unemployment. The important differences in psychological symptoms in this population were related to employment status, problems with parenting, financial difficulties, perceived lack of social support, hostility, and feelings about unemployment. By and large, the patterns of these relationships were similar for men and women. These findings suggest that when gender in ferences in psychological distress are found they may be due to differences in role configurations of men and women rather than intrinsic gender differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-477
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1990


  • coping
  • gender differences
  • psychological distress
  • unemployment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Gender differences in the effect of unemployment on psychological distress'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this