Reid+and+Hardy+1999 - Journal of Gerontology SOCIAL...

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Journal of Gerontology: SOCIAL SCIENCES 1999, Vol. 54B, No. 6, S329-S338 Copyright 1999 by The Geruntological Society of America Multiple Roles and Well-Being Among Midlife Women: Testing Role Strain and Role Enhancement Theories Jennifer Reid and Melissa Hardy Department of Sociology and Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy, Florida State University, Tallahassee. Objective. Research on women's multiple roles frequently adopts one of two perspectives: role strain, which argues that assuming multiple roles is detrimental to mental well-being, or role enhancement, which argues that engaging in multiple roles enhances mental well-being. We argue that the relationship between role occupancy and well-being is manifested through mul- tiple dimensions of role experiences. We investigate the association between depressive symptomatology and various dimen- sions of the roles of wife, mother, paid worker, and informal caregiver to aging parents. Methods. Data are from the 1992 wave of the Health and Retirement Study. Depressive symptomatology, measured by a subset of the CES-D scale, is the dependent variable. To assess the robustness of findings relative to different functional forms of the dependent variable, we estimate multiple regression, log-linear regression, and multinomial logit models. Independent variables include demographic characteristics, measures of role occupancy, role demands, and role satisfaction. Results. Although the number of roles women assume affects their reports of depressive symptoms, once the demand and satisfaction associated with these roles is controlled, number has no effect; that is, the effect of the number of roles is indirect. Discussion. Our results highlight the importance of women's perceptions of the quality of their roles in relation to their overall well-being. Future investigations of women's multiple roles should examine how roles may provide rewards, impose constraints, or generate conflict, as well as the extent to which the willingness to assume multiple roles and the reported levels of role satisfaction and mental well-being may be jointly endogenous. T HAT women spend much of their adult lives juggling the demands of multiple roles is not news. Because the roles that women occupy depend, in part, on age and family struc- ture, roles common to women of one age may be much less common and, perhaps, much less enjoyable for women of dif- ferent ages. As more people survive to old age and live longer as elders, more women find themselves assuming the role of caregiver to multiple generations of family members while they continue in their roles as wives and paid workers. Managing multiple roles can be both stressful and satisfying. Even very demanding roles can be associated with enhanced well-being if they reinforce a positive sense of identity. Studies that examine the impact of women's multiple roles on their well-being gen- erally explore the roles of wife, mother, and paid worker, but exclude the role of informal caregiver to aging adults. In addi-
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Reid+and+Hardy+1999 - Journal of Gerontology SOCIAL...

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