Albertans know all too well the pains of a recession. We have experienced riding the wave of boom and bust many times in the province and we see first-hand the effect it can have on everyone in the province – not just those in oil and gas.
Although we are starting to bounce back from the latest hit, we’re still seeing the impact of the last recession on our province, especially for men. Many economists and researchers have referred to the latest economic phase as the ‘mancession’.
What is a Mancession?
This term refers to when a recession hits men harder than women, and according to economist Ron Kneebone from the University of Calgary, recessions are increasingly becoming mancessions. In Calgary, men enjoyed two decades of income growth, but when the recession struck the average male income plunged by $20,000. Young men were hit particularly hard and suffered some of the worst job losses. This was similar in the 80s and 90s.
Part of this type of recession is a shifting of gender roles and culture. Research suggests that these types of recessions are shifting the way men think of masculinity and traditional roles in the household. Women are increasingly educated and moving into breadwinning roles, and this means shifting the idea of work and home life for many people in the province.
Another factor is that male-dominated industries are typically in high-risk sectors and are also starting to disappear. Men make up 75 per cent of Alberta’s oil and gas sector and 87 per cent of construction. However, more secure female-dominated industries are expanding quickly especially in areas such as healthcare and social services. Studies have shown that men need to start shifting their views of ‘male and female’ work in order to adapt.
Mental Health and Self-Worth
One of the biggest concerns with a mancession is the impact on the self-worth and mental health of those affected. Men have reported feeling completely shaken, worthless and less of a ‘man.’ Depression is common as well as an ‘overwhelming sense of loss.’ Suicide is also a huge issue. Men between the ages of 40 and 60 have the highest rate of suicide in Canada. Although women attempt suicide more, men die by suicide three times more often because they use more lethal means.
We do know that recessions do affect all genders, it’s clear the men are hit more directly in Alberta. While we can’t ignore the issue of the gender pay gap, women are still earning 76¢ for every $1 a man earns, we should be paying close attention to mancessions for the well-being of Albertans across the province.