This paper reviews explanations of sex differences in mental hospital admission rates, taking account of age and marital status effects. Six propositions derived from the review are tested on data from a nationwide community survey of 259 respondents, using a standardized symptom check list.
Women report more psychological symptoms than men, but this is unrelated to marital status. It is suggested that being married acts to keep a potential patient out of hospital rather than to reduce symptoms. Whether or not a woman is in paid employment outside the home is a major predictor of symptom levels, especially in depression. Women with unemployed husbands are also particularly likely to report high levels of depression. However, there is no reciprocal effect of wives' employment status on the psychological well-being of their husbands.