Dynamics of parental work hours, job insecurity, and child wellbeing during middle childhood in Australian dual-income families
This study examines the relationship between parental employment characteristics and child well-being during middle childhood in dual-earner families. Parental employment provides important resources for children’s wellbeing, but may also create time pressure and introduce stress into the child’s environment. Moreover, there may be gender differences in how mothers’ and fathers’ employment characteristics translate to children’s wellbeing, due to the different role-performance demands placed on men and women, and the differences in the amount of time mothers and fathers spend with their children. Further, these relationships may differ at various ages of the children across middle childhood. Our study contributes to existing research in three ways: 1) by examining longitudinal data that enables us to examine changes in the association between parental work hours, job insecurity and child wellbeing, within and across parent-child dyad, 2) by focusing on regularly dual-employed, intact households to examine the effects of mothers’ and fathers’ employment environment on girls’ and boys’ wellbeing in this relatively privileged sample, and 3) by testing possible mediators in the relationship between parental employment characteristics and child well-being. Drawing on 3 waves of data from two cohorts of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (N = 3,216), from 2004 to 2012, we find that mothers who work long hours on average over the study period have children with poorer socio-emotional trajectories, and that fathers with increasing work hours have children with poorer socio-emotional development. Mothers’ job security is linked to better child development, comparing both across mothers and within mothers over time.
About the Presenter
Professor Janeen Baxter is Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course in the Institute for Social Science Research at The University of Queensland. She has research expertise in family dynamics, gender inequality, life course and longitudinal research. She is a former member of the ARC College of Experts and is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.
Dr Jack Lam is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Life Course Centre and the Institute for Social Science Research, at the University of Queensland. His research examines issues of work, family and health over life course. He is also interested in understanding how these issues intersect with population ageing, with implications for retirement, chronic conditions, and intergenerational relationships and support.
Mr Martin O'Flaherty is an RHD candidate at the Institute for Social Science Research. His interests focus on partnership and fertility histories in relation to health and health-related behavioural outcomes.