Dual earner couples : work commitment and quality of life within career stages : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
The present study focused on the impact of dual earner couple status on work commitment, quality of life and the interaction between quality of work life and marital dissatisfaction, within career stages. The study was based on Super's career theory and theories of the work-family relationship. Dual earner couples were defined as couples in which both partners were employed full-time. A sample of 164 white-collar, dual earner men and women (79 couples and 6 individuals) were surveyed at an academic institution. Half of the couples were parents. There were no sex or parenting differences in work commitment (occupational commitment and job involvement) when income, age and career stage were used as covariates. High salience in work and family was not associated with diminished work commitment, but professional women who had non-professional partners had significantly lower job involvement than those who had professional partners. Secondly, quality of life and marital dissatisfaction were investigated. Quality of life and marital dissatisfaction did not differ across age, career stages or parenting. Furthermore, quality of life did not differ by couples' level of work and family salience, work commitment, or egalitarianism. Thirdly, a segmentation relationship was found which meant that people tend to compartmentalize their marital and work roles, rather than have spillover of affect between the two roles or compensate for dissatisfactions in one role with rewards in another. Unexpectedly, work-family conflict did not differ by age or career stage. However, parents of teenagers did experience significantly greater work family conflict than all others. Men in egalitarian couples and men in couples for whom both family and work were highly salient for both partners perceived greater work-family conflict than other men. Professional women with professional partners experienced significantly less work-family conflict than those with non-professional partners. The trend of declining sex differences in work commitment, quality of life and work-family conflict is continuing. It is suggested that employers need not be wary of employing women and parents if they can provide good childcare facilities and equal employment opportunities policies.