Developmental trajectories of work-family conflict for Finnish workers in midlife

J Occup Health Psychol. 2012 Jul;17(3):290-303. doi: 10.1037/a0028153. Epub 2012 May 28.


This study investigated the developmental trajectories of work-family conflict among the same participants (n = 277; 48% female) at ages 36, 42, and 50. Across this 14-year time span, with respect to the sample as a whole, there was no significant change in the mean levels of work-to-family conflict (WFC) or family to-work conflict (FWC). However, latent profile analyses revealed four latent trajectories within the sample, showing both mean-level stability and change in WFC and FWC: (1) "WFC decreasing" (n = 151); (2) "WFC and FWC stable low" (n = 105); (3) "WFC and FWC increasing" (n = 14); and (4) "FWC decreasing" (n = 7). Of these trajectories the strongest contrast existed between the WFC and FWC stable low and the WFC and FWC increasing trajectories: the former had the lowest and the latter the highest number of weekly working hours at ages 36, 42, and 50, and in the former but not in the latter the number of children living at home significantly decreased from age 36 to 50. Also, at ages 42 and 50 the WFC and FWC increasing trajectory showed higher job exhaustion and depressive symptoms than the WFC and FWC stable low trajectory. Altogether these findings suggest that work-family conflict is not limited to the early part of employees' working career and that developmental trajectories of work-family conflict exhibit a substantial amount of heterogeneity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology