Women, work, and well-being 1950-2000: a review and methodological critique

Soc Sci Med. 2004 Mar;58(6):1007-24. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(03)00262-4.


In this research synthesis, we summarize 161 measures of the effects of women's employment on well being reported between 1950 and 2000. Variations in the conceptualization and measurement of employment and health outcomes and the difficulty in distinguishing social selection from social causation limit the inferences that can be drawn from the evidence. Therefore, we distinguish two types of studies. Longitudinal studies measuring relevant covariates at the first measurement occasion and statistically controlling them in multivariate analyses providing effect-size information are classified as Type II studies. The remaining studies are classified as Type I studies. The main findings were that (1) results from methodologically sound Type II studies confirm the cross-sectional finding that paid employment has no adverse effects on women; (2) the outcome groups psychological distress, subjective health, cardiovascular risks and disease, and mortality do not converge completely.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Employment* / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Occupational Health*
  • Women's Health*
  • Women, Working* / psychology
  • Women, Working* / statistics & numerical data