Combining a job and children: contrasting the health of married and divorced women in the Netherlands?

Soc Sci Med. 2002 Mar;54(5):741-52. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(01)00106-x.


The research question of this paper is whether the combination of paid employment and taking care of children promotes or damages the health of married and divorced women in the Netherlands. To answer this question, data are used from 936 women aged 30-54 years who were either living with a partner (N = 431) or divorced and living alone 505). The findings show that combining a job outside the home and childcare does not harm women's health, irrespective of the length of the working week and the age of the children. In fact, some work-childcare combinations are associated with better health. This is true for both married and divorced women and especially holds true in the case of a part-time job and having older children. Two effects are responsible for the findings: enjoying good health enables mothers to work outside the home (selection effect) and working outside the home promotes mothers' health (health effect).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Rearing / psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Employment / psychology
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Marital Status*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Women's Health*
  • Women, Working / psychology*
  • Women, Working / statistics & numerical data