Jobs, Marriage, and Children: How His and Her Jobs Affect Child Well-Being

Elizabeth Menaghan, Ohio State University

Although employment of both parents in married-couple families is now common in the U.S., men and women continue to face gender-differentiated work and family expectations. This study focuses on similarities and differences in how mothers' and fathers' work conditions affect family and child outcomes. Using the Child-Mother data set of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, I examine a synthetic cohort of 2,865 families with two employed parents and an early school-age child. I focus on work complexity, hourly earnings, and usual work hours, and hypothesize that each parent's greater work complexity and higher earnings will be associated with higher marital quality, better home environments, and better child-well-being, with father effects stronger. Full-time work schedules are expected to be more positive than both very low hours and extensive overtime. Consistent with gendered expectations regarding optimal work-family balancing, however, mothers' extensive overtime, but fathers' less-than-full-time hours, will be especially problematic.

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Presented in Session 8: Parental Employment and Child Outcomes