Maternal Employment and Child Well-Being: Maternal Well-Being - A Possible Mediation?

Aurea K. Osgood, Winona State University

Breaking ground for new social policy, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act was passed in 1996, promising to significantly change the economic landscape for low-income families across the nation. Proponents of the policy changes have argued that requiring maternal employment will increase maternal self-esteem, thereby benefiting children. Skeptics are concerned however, that these requirements may harm child well-being by increasing parental stress, limiting parental monitoring, and decreasing the time children spend with parents. Using data from the Three Cities Study, this research finds that mother’s employment status is not significantly associated with the likelihood of development delays for children ages 0-4 or with scores on the W-J Letters-Word Identification or Applied Problems for children ages 2-4. For children ages 10-14, maternal employment is a significant predictor for serious delinquency and the use of alcohol/drugs, but not school problems or psychological well-being.

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Presented in Session 13: Parental Work and Children’s Lives