Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 83–94

Depression Risk among Mothers of Young Children: The Role of Employment Preferences, Labor Force Status and Job Quality


    • Center for Policy ResearchSyracuse University
  • Rachel A. Gordon
    • Department of Sociology and Institute of Government and Public AffairsUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
  • Xue Wang
    • Department of SociologyUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
  • Anna Gluzman
    • Department of SociologyCalifornia State University
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10834-011-9260-5

Cite this article as:
Usdansky, M.L., Gordon, R.A., Wang, X. et al. J Fam Econ Iss (2012) 33: 83. doi:10.1007/s10834-011-9260-5


This study examines how desire for employment, employment status, and job quality associate with depressive symptoms among mothers of infants and toddlers. We use the longitudinal NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD) to estimate regression models with a variety of controls including prior depression. We find that employment in high-quality versus low-quality jobs is associated with reductions in depressive symptoms, both for mothers who do and do not desire employment. Furthermore, non-employed mothers have elevated depression levels only if they desire employment. Our results demonstrate that neither employment nor non-employment is best for all mothers of young children; rather mental health depends on mothers’ employment preferences and, when they do work for pay, job quality.


Employment preferencesJob qualityMaternal depressionMaternal employment

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011