Do Nonstandard Work Hours Harm Relationship Quality?

Susan Jekielek, Child Trends

This research examines the relationship between nonstandard work schedules and relationship quality for a sample of 1,022 dual-earner couples with children in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 Cohort. My research findings suggest a reason to be concerned for these couples. Nonstandard work hours not determined by the worker have harmful effects on relationship conflict and positive interaction, compared to couples who both work days. Yet more convincing, split-shift couples engage in more conflict, despite prior levels of this variable, suggesting that working alternating schedules is associated with changes in conflict over time. The one exception to the patterns just described above is the situation when one spouse works irregular hours that she or he himself controls --in this case relationship quality is the same for these couples as it is for couples that both work day shifts.

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Presented in Session 75: Balancing Work and Family