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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 21:24 EDT

When Husband is Away, Will Wife Fray?

July 7, 2009

In a twist on the subject of immigration policy and its social impact in the U.S., researchers from Brigham Young University (BYU) went to Mexico to investigate the social impact on women whose husbands had immigrated to the U.S. for work.

The BYU researchers conducted a census of five rural villages in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. There they interviewed 94 Mexican women. Half had sent husbands to the U.S. for some part of the previous five years; the other half had not.

BYU undergraduate Jared Wilkerson, who led the study, interviewed the 94 Mexican wives under the mentorship of BYU psychology professor Niwako Yamawaki. They found that Mexican wives who stayed home when their husbands immigrated to the United States for work had poorer mental health than the comparison group. Among the “sending” wives, those who shifted away from traditional gender roles fared the worst.

“Popular American psychology would suggest that their newfound independence might ease the stress of single-handedly managing the household,” lead study author Jared Wilkerson is quoted as saying. “[But] being apart from their husbands who go to the United States to work does nothing beneficial for their mental health.”

SOURCE: Health Care for Women International, July 2009