Intact and Non-Intact Dual Earners: Stress Levels


Dual earners refer to the families where both parents work and bring the paycheck home to share out the responsibilities of the household. Single earners on the other hand refer to the families whereby only one parent works and their earnings are used to cater for the household responsibilities. Intact earners are the employees that are assured of their jobs, they are certain that their jobs will be there the next day and they are able to plane ahead how to use their money. Non intact earners are employees who are not assured of their jobs, their jobs are not permanent and they can be fired at any time. This uncertainty does not allow them to plan ahead as they may not have a job or income to plan for.

Stress levels in intact dual earners and non- intact dual earners

According to Conger (1999), privation circumstances in the form of depleted family per capita income and negative financial situations have an effect on the degree of economic pressure the family experience, dwindling per capita income shows a comparatively steady or constant sphere of family suffering. This means that in both families of intact dual earners and non –intact dual earners the less the family income the higher the stress levels as one cannot accomplish their needs and the needs of the family leading to depression. According to Maslow’s hierarchy needs one cannot fully satisfy move on from one need to the next before having fully completed the needs of one stage. Low income hinders the satisfaction of this needs and wants therefore according to Maslow’s hierarchy needs theory, the needs and wants are not satisfied leading to stress of the caregiver who then displaces this stress to the family members. (Drew 2007).

Hardship circumstances influence individual well-being and family performance through the difficulties and burdens that are created from economic aspects of everyday life. Economic demand is a concept that indicates the harsh veracities that stem from hardship situations, like inability to buy essential goods and services, making important reductions in everyday spending due to inadequate resources and the inability to pay for monthly bills (Guttman & Eccles 1999). When one is unable to fulfill their daily needs and wants one gets depressed and then passes on the anger to the people around him or her. This in simple terms is to say that when a parent looses a source of income the whole family suffers some suffer more than others but the bottom line is and still remains that all family members suffer. Economic hardship mirrors the types of upsetting or exasperating occurrences that are thought to amplify emotional distress. These occurrences include belligerent or irate answers such as condemnation, being defensive and insensitive, as well as retraction of accommodating characteristics.

Stress levels occur in both intact and non-intact dual earners. How to deal with the stress levels depends on the individuals and the people around them. This is to say stress levels depend on the situation and not if one is a permanent employee or a semi-permanent employee. One might be a permanent employee who gets laid off without a warning leading the person to get frustrated and the frustration runs off on the family. Similarly when a person with a semi-permanent job gets laid off they also get frustrated and it rubs off on the people close to them. Without a source of income whether both or one it means that the income levels are reduced and that the expenditure has to be reduced significantly. Frustration comes in whereby one cannot fulfill their needs and the needs of their family members therefore in reference to Maslow’s hierarchy needs theory is proven that one cannot start fulfilling one need before he/she fully satisfies the basic needs and wants first. (MCwilliams 2006).

Coping strategies

An important thing to note is that economic pressure depends on the ability to cope with economic stress (Conger et al 2000). This is to say some families are better at handling debts and expenditures than others. These families may be in a better position and better at handling stress directly related to loss of economic resources. Gomel et al 1998 one way of coping with economic stress is accepting help from extensive family members; this will not help the family in hardship but will also amplify family resilience. Through the outside help from other family members the members of the family show their family spirit and their ability to stick together through the hard tomes strengthening not only the nuclear family ties but also the extended family ties.

Gatty (2010) has identified a few ways of coping with stress due to loss of income. These strategies include: identifying ones financial stressors, taking one day at time, developing an action plan. Identifying ones financial stressors includes writing a list of ways you can cut down on your expenditure and following the list so as you can stay within your limits for the time being. Making this list will enable the family access all the important things in life like food, shelter, electricity and health care. Through taking one day at a time enables one to solve one problem at a time one will avoid getting stressed and depressed this way one will have a clear mind to solve the problems that they are going through. Developing an action plan by planning for the future can change for the situation for the better. Through making a future plan one is able to specifically divined household roles and responsibilities among the family members such that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and duties so as to lessen the burden on the other family members.

Psychological well being

According to Kim (2008), Kim&Gim (2008) and Pinquart et al (2009), ambiguity which is related to psychological well-being is found to be linked with abridged psychological well being, this in simpler terms means that non-intact earners are more prone to have psychological problems due to the fact their jobs are not permanent and they may loose them at anytime. This also means that they have no job security unlike intact earners who have job securities and they are able to plan ahead. This links job security to psychological welfare in that when there is no or less job security the psychological well being is low and when there is job security the psychological well being is high.

In reference to studies carried out by Elder (1974); Kim (2008); Pinquart et al, (2009) burdens that are directly linked to amplified vagueness in periods of social change may hinder psychological well being and the mental capability of someone. Evaluations in the studies revealed that the perceived increases in ambiguity and the negative outcomes for example breaking up from a relationship, divorce just to mention but a few are linked. Dunne et al. (2005) found that pregnant women who were earning less had fragile personal resources for example, optimism, self esteem, and these fragile resources were related to higher stress levels, and also found heightened reactions form children in relation to stress. A study conducted found out that low education levels and being single were high possibility factors for stress related disorders among peace keeping soldiers. The main aim of this study was to evaluate and analyze the effect of age and parenthood during an economic crisis, after controlling for the impact of resource loss and coping strategies.

A research carried out by Abramson, Seligman & Teasdale (1978) found out that psychological well being varied if the stressing factor was common among a number of people living in one community. This is to say if a community was facing a common stressor the depression affects would be low. This is because in this situation the people tend to collectively share the stressor and its effects so that one individual is not carrying all the weight of the effects by himself. People tend to compare themselves with people facing the same issues hence reducing the stress levels they are experiencing as they tend to look at their own situations as normal helping them to cope much better, instead of comparing themselves with people who are better off, as this will bring about a risk in the psychological health. (Dunne et al. 2005).


Both intact and non-intact earners experience stress and stress factors related to loss of economic stability. Dealing with the stressing factors determines one’s psychological stability. Some people are better than others when it comes to dealing with issues that are directly linked to economic issues some pull through easily while others do not. Psychological well being varies from one person to the next and also depends on the stressing factor. According to Maslow’s hierarchical theory the loss of economic stability hinders one from fulfilling their needs therefore proving that the theory is true.


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PsychologyWriting. "Intact and Non-Intact Dual Earners: Stress Levels." January 5, 2023.