Working Full-Time Has Many Benefits For Mothers
August 21, 2012

More Health Benefits For Moms Who Work Full-Time

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Researchers from the University of Akron recently discovered that employment has a number of health benefits for working moms as compared to stay-at-home moms, who receive less health benefits.

The research findings detailed how full-time working moms are healthier at age 40 than mothers who have a short amount of past work history, moms with part-time jobs, and stay-at-home moms. Even though they have better health, these moms who work full-time have a higher risk of being unemployed. They also discovered that women who go back to working full-time after giving birth have better mental and physical health, less depression, and more energy at the age of 40.

"Work is good for your health, both mentally and physically," commented Adrianne Frech, an assistant sociology professor at the University of Akron, in a prepared statement. "It gives women a sense of purpose, self-efficacy, control and autonomy. They have a place where they are an expert on something, and they're paid a wage."

The scientists looked at longitudinal data from 2,450 women who, between 1978 and 1995, became mothers. The study showed how the choices women make early in their careers would later affect their health. They analyzed factors like age at first birth, cognitive ability, pre-pregnancy employment, race/ethnicity,  prior health conditions, and single motherhood to determine the results.

Apart from these findings, the researchers believe that it is important to look at a group of women who are “persistently unemployed.” These women tend to be the unhealthiest and are generally in and out of the workforce, not out of choice but due to outside factors. These females find it difficult to secure a job and go through a cyclical process of finding work, but only losing it a short time later.

"Struggling to hold onto a job or being in constant job search mode wears on their health, especially mentally, but also physically," explained Frech in the statement.

Besides the “persistently unemployed,” the researchers listed a set of points related to each group of women in the study. Those with part-time work tended to have lower pay, less job security, fewer benefits, and slimmer chances of job promotion. Stay-at-home moms, on the other hand, faced social isolation and financial dependence on their partner. In general, unemployment can cause stress for work instability, which manifests into physical health problems.

"Women with interrupted employment face more job-related barriers than other women, or cumulative disadvantages over time," noted Frech in the statement. "If women can make good choices before their first pregnancy, they likely will be better off health-wise later. Examples of good choices could be delaying your first birth until you're married and done with your education, or not waiting a long time before returning to the workforce."

Based on the study, the researchers believe that positive solutions can be developed for women. For example, offering childcare and transportation options to single mothers could help boost employment opportunities. For young women who are considering careers, Frech also recommends girls explore obtaining an education and building work history before having a child.

"Don't let critical life transitions like marriage and parenthood mean that you invest any less in your education and work aspirations, because women are the ones who end up making more trade-offs for family" Frech concluded in the statement. "Work makes you healthier. You will have the opportunity to save a nest egg. Also, should a divorce happen, it is harder to enter the workforce if you don't have a solid work history. Don't give up on work and education."