Child health status and parental employment

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001 Dec;155(12):1346-50. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.155.12.1346.


Objective: To understand the relationship between several measures of child health status and the employment of parents.

Design: A cross-sectional study using 1994 National Health Interview Survey on Disability data.

Participants: A nationally representative sample of children and their parents.

Outcome measures: Maternal and paternal employment (measured separately).

Intervention: We use a series of logistic regression models with maternal and paternal employment as the dependent variables and the health status of the child with the poorest health status in the family as the primary independent variable. Models additionally include sociodemographic correlates of employment.

Results: Having a child with poor health status, as measured by general reported health, hospitalizations, activity limitations, and chronic condition or disability status, is associated with reduced employment of mothers and fathers. For example, the odds ratios of being employed for having a child with an activity limitation are 0.75 for mothers (95% confidence interval, 0.67-0.85) and 0.66 for fathers (95% confidence interval, 0.53-0.82).

Conclusions: Having a child with poor health status is associated with reduced maternal and paternal employment. Further studies are needed to determine whether poor child health status causes reductions in parental labor force participation. If such a causal relationship exists, it has important implications for social policy, employment policy, and clinical anticipatory guidance.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Maternal Behavior*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Paternal Behavior*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors