In her 1997 book, The Time Bind, the sociologist Arlie Hochschild shook up conventional notions of family life when she argued that work was becoming more like home for many parents, a place of order and belonging where they willingly put in long hours. “I come to work to relax,” one person told her. Home, Hochschild said, was becoming more like work, with sullen children, resentful spouses, endless chores, stress and chaos, Huffington Post reports.
Hochschild blew everyone’s mind by arguing that home, that once- sacred haven of rest and renewal, was in fact more stressful for people than work. And now, researchers have the data to prove she was right. In a newly released study in the Journal of Science and Medicine, researchers carefully examined the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, of a variety of workers throughout the day. The data clearly showed that both men and women are significantly less stressed out at work than they are at home. And the women they studied said they were happier at work. While the men said they felt happier at home.
“We found a big gender difference,” said Sarah Damaske, a sociologist and women’s studies professor at Penn State and one of the report authors. “Women were much happier at work than at home. And men were only moderately happier at home than at work.”
The results, Damaske said, are mind-blowing. Most people blame work as the source of stress in their lives. Yet their findings – study subjects took saliva swipes five times a day to measure cortisol levels and wore beepers to report on their moods when contacted by researchers – support earlier research that people who work have better mental and physical health than those who don’t. And mothers who work steadily full-time in their 20s and 30s report better mental and physical health at age 45 than mothers who work part-time, stay home with children, or have been unemployed.
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