Mothers who work less likely to suffer depression than stay-at-home mothers

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Working mums are more likely to be healthier and happier than those who stay at home to look after their children, according to a new study.


American researchers from the University of North Carolina analysed data from the 1991 Early Child Care and Youth Development study, which observed 1,364 mothers in the United States after their child’s birth and over a ten years.

Around 25 per cent of the mothers involved in the study were employed part-time. Part-time employment was defined as working between one and 32 hours a week.

They found that mothers who were employed part-time reported better overall health and fewer symptoms of depression than stay-at-home mothers. There was no difference between the health of mothers who worked part-time or full-time.

Their analysis also revealed that mothers employed part-time were just as involved in their child’s education as stay-at home mothers, and more involved than those who worked full-time.

Mothers working part-time were more likely to be more sensitive towards their pre-school children and provide more learning opportunities for toddlers than stay-at-home mums or those working full-time.

Marion O’Brien, professor of human development and family studies at the University of North Carolina, one of the authors of the study, said, ‘Since part-time work seems to contribute to the strength and well-being of families, it would be beneficial to employers if they provide benefits, at least proportionally, to part-time employees as well as offer them career ladders through training and promotion.’

  • The study, ‘Mothers’ Part-Time employment: associations with mother and family well-being’ is published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology.
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