Men who experienced a downward social shift were four times more likely to feel depressed than men who improved their social status, whereas there was no marked difference in the mental health between women who moved up or down the social ladder, according to research from Britain's Newcastle University.
Women in the study were actually twice as likely to be downwardly mobile but generally avoided the depression and poor psychological wellbeing shown by men, the study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health said.
The researchers used the occupation of the head of the household as the marker for social status and surveyed men and woman born in 1947 in the industrial town of Newcastle in north east England.
"It's possible that this reaction is typical of this post-war generation, where the man expected to be the main breadwinner of the household and took a significant knock to his self-esteem when he was not able to achieve this," said one of the study's authors, Dr Mark Pearce.
"You are just like all women. They are ever content to build their lives on any incidental position that offers itself; whilst men would fain make a globe to suit them."
Thomas Hardy, The Return Of The Native