Dual-Earner Middle-Class Ecologies, Life Course "Fit" and Health: Super Couples or Couples Stretched Thin?

Qinlei Huang, University of Minnesota

Based on a sample of 1046 middle-class dual-earner couples, this paper offers an integrated ecology of the gendered life course approach to understanding the “good life” of couples in the U.S., in terms of both spouses’ mental and physical heath, as well as subjective assessments of their own personal mastery, income adequacy, and satisfactory family life. We find that fewer than one in six of the couples in this sample are “super” couples in terms of quality of life. Half have low or else only “good enough” couple life quality. Couples living in childfree egalitarian family environments and those where wives’ job environments offer more flexible schedule control and greater job security are more apt to experience “super” couple life quality. This underscores the absence of “life course fit” between the temporal inflexibilities of jobs and the absence of job security, and the goals and needs of dual-earner couples.

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Presented in Poster Session 5