Depression Risk among Employed and Non-Employed Mothers of Young Children: The Impact of Preferences, Labor Force Status and Job Quality

Rachel Gordon, University of Illinois at Chicago
Xue Wang, University of Illinois at Chicago
Anna Gluzman, University of Illinois at Chicago

Objective. This study explores the relationships among mothers’ desire for employment, employment status, job quality and depression. Methods. The analysis uses the longitudinal NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD) and employs ordinary least squares models with multiple imputation to estimate these relationships controlling for prior depression. Results. Employment is associated with reductions in depression only among mothers who are employed in high-quality (not low-quality) jobs. But this reduction in depression is equally evident for mothers who desire and do not desire employment. Non-employed mothers have elevated depression levels only if they desire employment. Conclusions. The findings provide strong evidence of the benefits of multiple roles for mothers. Our results further demonstrate that neither employment nor non-employment is best for all mothers of young children, but rather that mental health depends on mothers’ employment preferences and the quality of their jobs when they do work for pay.

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Presented in Session 15: Work Environment and Work-Family Conflict