A Well-Being Penalty for Working Mothers? Parental Work Arrangements and Maternal Well-Being in Two-Parent Families

Ann Meier, University of Minnesota
Kelly Musick, Cornell University
Sarah Flood, University of Minnesota
Rachel Dunifon, Cornell University

Steady increases in women’s labor force participation over the past half century have occurred alongside the ratcheting up of expectations for intensive parenting. We know little about how mothers fare in the context of dual devotions to work and parenting. Using a new module in the 2010 and 2012 American Time Use Surveys, we assess mothers’ subjective well-being in parenting in the context of her and her partner’s work arrangements. Preliminary descriptive results suggest that compared to non-working mothers, working mothers do less of the desirable parenting tasks like play and more of that which is less desirable. This differential may explain working mothers’ lower happiness and higher stress and fatigue in parenting. Further, mothers working full-time while their partners work less than full time report less happiness, more stress, and more fatigue in parenting than those with other work arrangements, even full-time working mothers with full-time working partners.

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Presented in Session 200: Gender and the Allocation of Time to Work and Family