As an expert at finding silver linings in an economy shadowed by dark clouds, I found another reason to rejoice about the recession. A Sun-Times editorial reported that women who earn a paycheck live longer than those who don’t.
Thanks to the recession, many women have no prospects for retirement. Staying in the workforce will not only prolong their lives – the drudgery of work will make them feel like they’re living forever.
If you compare the life-expectancy of educated working women with jobless high school dropouts, the statistics are staggering. The odds of dying are 66 percent greater for unemployed women with low educations. It’s not just the fact that the employed women keep their health care coverage.
“Something about having a job – a place to go, a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging – appears to help keep us alive,” the editorial stated. If this is true, my wife has an especially purposeful life. If she can keep her full-time and part-time jobs, she’ll probably live to be a hundred.
Being married to a breadwinner also increases a man’s life expectancy. Right now, women live an average of five years more than men. One explanation is that women are more essential to the survival of the species because they bear children. Studies show, though, that if men and women share childcare responsibilities, their life spans will be comparable. Again, thanks to the recession, many men are stay-at-home dads, adding years to their lives.
I have my own theory on why men don’t live as long as woman. Work may prolong a woman’s life but it probably shortens ours. I mean, who needs the stress? Having a job often means leaving the house. It might mean getting stuck in traffic, where males are prone to road rage. Work may also involve getting up early, taking orders from a boss and spending hours at an office. Makes me tired just thinking about it.
But, what if you were fortunate enough to have a wife who works at a school during the day and the Gap at night? The husband could spend his day in gentle pursuits: cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry. He could thrive in a stress-free environment, with no schedule. He wouldn’t feel any urgency to go someplace. If he needed a sense of belonging – well, that’s why we have grocery stores.
My wife’s routine is a bit more demanding. Sometimes she comes home exhausted after supporting me all day. So, I graciously allow her a nap in between jobs. This, along with a home-cooked meal, is enough to perk her up for her evening shift.
Now, I have more reasons than ever to be appreciative my wife is employed. As we approach our golden years, sharing the same life expectancy, I’ll know what to say, if she starts feeling poorly. “Honey, they’re hiring greeters at Walmart.”