Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 2365–2388 | Cite as

The Life Satisfaction of Dual-Earner Mothers and Fathers: Does Flexible Scheduling Matter?

  • Krista Lynn MinnotteEmail author
  • Michael C. Minnotte
  • Krista Thompson
Research Paper


Work and family scholarship emphasizes flexible scheduling policies as a key solution to the challenges faced by workers navigating the work–family interface. Despite making life easier for workers, very little research has considered how such policies relate to life satisfaction, especially in terms of how gender comes into play. This study examines how both the availability of flexible scheduling options and the actual use of such policies are differentially related to the life satisfaction of dual-earner mothers and fathers. To address this research question, we use data from the National Study of the Changing Workforce conducted in the United States (N = 211 dual-earner fathers and 284 dual-earner mothers). Results show that flexible scheduling availability is unrelated to the life satisfaction of fathers and mothers. In contrast, flexible scheduling use is significantly and positively related to life satisfaction for dual-earner mothers, but negatively related to the life satisfaction of dual-earner fathers. Explanations for these findings are discussed.


Life satisfaction Flexible scheduling Work and family Dual-earner couples Flextime Flexible work Flexibility 


  1. Allen, T. D. (2001). Family-supportive work environments: The role of organizational perceptions. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 58, 414–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen, T. D., Johnson, R. C., Kiburz, K. M., & Shockley, K. M. (2013). Work–family conflict and flexible work arrangements: Deconstructing flexibility. Personnel Psychology, 66, 345–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Atkinson, C., & Hall, L. (2011). Flexible working and happiness in the NHS. Employee Relations, 33, 88–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barnett, R. C., Gareis, K., & Brennan, R. (2009). Reconsidering work time: A multivariate longitudinal within-couple analysis. Community, Work, & Family, 12, 105–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bianchi, S. M. (2011). Family change and time allocation in American families. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, 638, 21–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bianchi, S. M., Sayer, L. C., Milkie, M. A., & Robinson, J. P. (2012). Housework: Who did, does or will do it, and how much does it matter? Social Forces, 91, 55–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boes, S., & Winkelmann, R. (2010). The effect of income on general life satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Social Indicators Research, 95, 111–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bond, J. T., Thompson, C., Galinsky, E., & Prottas, D. (2003). The 2002 national study of the changing workforce. New York: Families and Work Institute.Google Scholar
  9. Bull, T., & Mittelmark, M. B. (2008). Subjective well-being among employed lone mothers in Europe: The effects of level of work/family conflict and self-enhancement versus self-transcendence value orientation. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 10, 26–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Butler, A., Gasser, M., & Smart, L. (2004). A social-cognitive perspective on using family-friendly benefits. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 65, 57–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Butler, A. B., & Skattebo, A. (2004). What is acceptable for women may not be for men: The effect of family conflicts with work on job-performance ratings. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 77, 553–564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Casper, W. J., & Harris, C. M. (2008). Work–life benefits and organizational attachment: Self-interest utility and signaling theory models. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 72, 95–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cech, E. A., & Blair-Loy, M. (2014). Consequences of flexibility stigma among academic scientists and engineers. Work and Occupations, 41, 86–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cha, Y. (2013). Overwork and the persistence of gender segregation in occupations. Gender and Society, 27, 158–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chesley, N., & Moen, P. (2006). When workers care: Dual-earner couples’ caregiving strategies, benefit use, and psychological well-being. American Behavioral Scientist, 49, 1248–1269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cleveland, W. (1993). Visualizing data. Summit, NJ: Hobart Press.Google Scholar
  17. Coltrane, S. (2000). Research on household labor: Modeling and measuring the social embeddedness of routine family work. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 1208–1233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Coltrane, S., Miller, E. C., DeHaan, T., & Stewart, L. (2013). Fathers and the flexibility stigma. Journal of Social Issues, 69, 279–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Costa, G., Åkerstedt, T., Nachreiner, F., Baltieri, F., Carvalhais, J., Folkard, S., et al. (2004). Flexible working hours, health, and well-being in Europe: Some considerations from a SALTSA project. Chronobiology International, 21, 831–844.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Costa, G., Sartori, S., & Åkerstedt, T. (2006). Influence of flexibility and variability of working hours on health and well-being. Chronobiology International, 23, 1125–1137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Davies, A. R., & Frink, B. D. (2014). The origins of the ideal worker: The separation of work and home in the United States from the Market Revolution to 1950. Work and Occupations, 41, 18–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Davis, K., Goodman, B., Pirretti, A., & Almeida, D. (2008). Nonstandard work schedules, perceived family well-being, and daily stressors. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70, 991–1003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Della Giusta, M., Jewell, S. L., & Kambhampati, U. S. (2011). Gender and life satisfaction in the UK. Feminist Economics, 17, 1–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Demerouti, E., Bakker, A. B., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2005). Spillover and crossover of exhaustion and life satisfaction among dual-earner parents. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 67, 266–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Demerouti, E., Shimazu, A., Bakker, A. B., Shimada, K., & Kawakami, N. (2013). Work-self balance: A longitudinal study on the effects of job demands and resources on personal functioning in Japanese working parents. Work & Stress, 27, 223–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Deutsch, F. M. (1999). Halving it all: How equally shared parenting works. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Diener, E., Ingelhart, R., & Tay, L. (2013). Theory and validity of life satisfaction scales. Social Indicators Research, 112, 497–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ferree, M. M. (1990). Beyond separate spheres: Feminism and family research. Journal of Marriage and Family, 52, 866–884.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Fleetwood, S. (2007). Why work–life balance now? International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18, 387–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Grawitch, M. J., & Barber, L. K. (2010). Work flexibility or nonwork support? Theoretical and empirical distinctions for work–life initiatives. Consulting Psychology Journal, 62, 169–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gregory, A., Milner, S., & Windebank, J. (2013). Work–life balance in times of economic crisis and austerity. International Journal of Sociology and Social policy, 33, 528–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gronlund, A., & Oun, I. (2010). Rethinking work–family conflict: Dual-earner policies, role conflict and role expansion in Western Europe. Journal of European Social Policy, 20, 179–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Haddock, S., Zimmerman, T., Ziemba, S., & Lyness, K. (2006). Practices of dual-earner couples successfully balancing work and family. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 27, 207–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Halpern, D. F. (2005). Psychology at the intersection of work and family: Recommendations for employers, working families, and policymakers. American Psychologist, 60, 397–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hays, S. (1996). The cultural contradictions of motherhood. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Hill, E. J. (2005). Work–family facilitation and conflict, working fathers and mothers, work–family stressors and support. Journal of Family Issues, 26, 793–817.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hill, E. J., Grzywacz, J. G., Allen, S., Blanchard, V. L., Matz-Costa, C., Shulkin, S., & Pitt-Catsouphes, M. (2008). Defining and conceptualizing workplace flexibility. Community, Work, and Family, 11, 149–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hochschild, A. R. (1997). The time bind: When work becomes home and home becomes work. New York: Metropolitan Books.Google Scholar
  39. Hofäcker, D., & Köning, S. (2013). Flexibility and work–life conflict in times of crisis: A gender perspective. International Journal of Sociology and Social policy, 33, 613–635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hostetler, A. J., Desrochers, S., Kopko, K., & Moen, P. (2012). Marital and family satisfaction as a function of work–family demands and community resources: Individual- and couple-level analyses. Journal of Family Issues, 33, 316–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Johnson, W., & Krueger, R. (2006). How money buys happiness: Genetic and environmental processes linking finances and life satisfaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 680–691.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kattenbach, R., Demerouti, E., & Nachreiner, F. (2010). Flexible working times: Effects on employees’ exhaustion, work-nonwork conflict and job performance. Career Development International, 15, 279–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kirby, E. L., & Krone, K. J. (2002). “The policy exists but you can’t really use it”: Communication and the structuration of work–family policies. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 30, 50–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kossek, E. E., Lautsch, B. A., & Eaton, S. C. (2005). Flexibility enactment theory: Implications of flexibility type, control, and boundary management for work–family effectiveness. In E. E. Kossek & S. J. Lambert (Eds.), Work and life integration: Organizational, cultural, and individual perspectives (pp. 243–261). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  45. Kossek, E. E., & Ozeki, C. (1998). Work–family conflict, policies, and the job-life satisfaction relationship: A review and directions for organizational behavior-human resources research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 139–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Legerski, E., & Cornwall, M. (2010). Working-class job loss, gender, and the negotiation of household labor. Gender & Society, 24, 447–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Leslie, L. M., Park, T.-Y., & Mehng, S. A. (2012). Flexible work practices: A source of career premiums or penalties? Academy of Management Journal, 55, 1407–1428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lin, W.-F., Chen, L. H., & Li, T.-S. (2015). Are “we” good? A longitudinal study of we-talk and stress coping in dual-earner couples. Journal of Happiness Studies. doi: 10.1007/s10902-015-9621-0.Google Scholar
  49. McCampbell, A. S. (1996). Benefits achieved through alternative work schedules. Human Resource Planning, 19, 31–37.Google Scholar
  50. McNall, L. A., Masuda, A. D., & Nicklin, J. M. (2010). Flexible work arrangements, job satisfaction, and turnover intentions: The mediating role of work-to-family enrichment. Journal of Psychology, 144, 61–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. McNamara, T. K., Pitt-Catsouphes, M., Matz-Costa, C., Brown, M., & Valcour, M. (2013). Across the continuum of satisfaction with work–family balance: Work hours, flexibility-fit, and work–family culture. Social Science Research, 42, 283–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Minnotte, K. L. (2012a). Perceived discrimination and work-to-life conflict among workers in the United States. The Sociological Quarterly, 53, 188–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Minnotte, K. L. (2012b). Family structure and the work–family interface: Work-to-family conflict among single and partnered parents. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 33, 95–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Minnotte, K. L., Cook, A., & Minnotte, M. C. (2010). Occupation and industry sex segregation, gender, and workplace support: The use of flexible scheduling policies. Journal of Family Issues, 31, 656–680.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Minnotte, K. L., & Grotte, M. (2010). Understanding workday housework performance: Testing three theories. The Great Plains Sociologist, 21, 28–50.Google Scholar
  56. Minnotte, K. L., Minnotte, M. C., & Bonstrom, J. (2015). Work–family conflicts and marital satisfaction among U.S. workers: Does stress amplification matter? Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 36, 21–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Minnotte, K. L., Minnotte, M. C., & Pedersen, D. E. (2013). Marital satisfaction among dual-earner couples: Gender ideologies and family-to-work conflict. Family Relations, 62, 686–698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Moen, P., & Yu, Y. (2000). Effective work/life strategies: Working couples, work conditions, gender, and life quality. Social Problems, 47, 291–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Newman, D. B., Tay, L., & Diener, E. (2014). Leisure and subjective well-being: A model of psychological mechanisms as mediating factors. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15, 555–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Nikunen, M. (2012). Changing university work, freedom, flexibility, and family. Studies in Higher Education, 37, 713–729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Nomaguchi, K. M. (2009). Change in work–family conflict among employed parents between 1977 and 1997. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71, 15–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Nomaguchi, K. M., Milkie, M. A., & Bianchi, S. M. (2005). Time strains and psychological well-being: Do dual-earner mothers and fathers differ? Journal of Family Issues, 26, 756–792.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Okulicz-Kozaryn, A. (2011). Europeans work to live and Americans live to work. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12, 225–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Pedersen, V. B., & Lewis, S. (2012). Flexible friends? Flexible working time arrangements, blurred work–life boundaries and friendship. Work, Employment & Society, 26, 464–480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Pedersen, D. E., Minnotte, K. L., & Mannon, S. E. (2010). Getting by with a little help from workplace friends: Workplace culture, social support, and family cohesion. Marriage and Family Review, 46, 400–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Pocock, B., Charlesworth, S., & Chapman, J. (2013). Work–family and work–life pressures in Australia: Advancing gender equality in “good times”? International Journal of Sociology and Social policy, 33, 594–612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Presser, H. B. (2003). Working in a 24/7 economy: Challenges for American families. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  68. Putnam, L. L., Myers, K. K., & Gailliard, B. M. (2014). Examining the tensions in workplace flexibility and exploring options for new directions. Human Relations, 67, 413–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Quick, J. D., Henley, A. B., & Quick, J. C. (2004). The balancing act—At work and home. Organizational Dynamics, 33, 426–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Rafnsdóttir, G. L., & Heijstra, T. M. (2013). Balancing work–family life in academia: The power of time. Gender, Work, and Organization, 20, 283–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Reskin, B. F., McBrier, D. B., & Kmec, J. A. (1999). The determinants and consequences of workplace sex and race composition. Annual Review of Sociology, 25, 335–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Richman, A. L., Civian, J. T., Shannon, L. L., Hill, E. J., & Brennan, R. T. (2008). The relationship of perceived flexibility, supportive work–life policies, and use of formal flexible arrangements. Community, Work, and Family, 11, 183–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Rodgers, C. (1992). The flexible workplace: What have we learned? Human Resource Management, 31, 183–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Rodríguez-Muñoz, A., Sanz-Vergel, A. I., Demerouti, E., & Bakker, A. B. (2014). Engaged at work and happy at home: A spillover-crossover model. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15, 271–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Sanchez, L., & Thomson, E. (1997). Becoming mothers and fathers: Parenthood, gender, and the division of labor. Gender & Society, 11, 747–772.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Schieman, S., & Glavin, P. (2011). Education and work–family conflict: Explanations, contingencies and mental health consequences. Social Forces, 89, 1341–1362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Seal, A., Wright, J. D., & Sheley, J. (1993). Well-being and motherhood: Effects of preschool age children on the satisfactions and life experiences of working women and housewives. Sociological Spectrum, 13, 325–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Shelton, B. A., & John, D. (1996). The division of household labor. Annual Review of Sociology, 22, 299–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Stevens, D. P., Kiger, G., & Riley, P. J. (2006). His, hers, or ours? Work-to-family spillover, crossover, and family cohesion. The Social Science Journal, 43, 425–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Stone, P., & Hernandez, L. A. (2013). The all-or-nothing workplace: Flexibility stigma and “opting out” among professional managerial women. Journal of Social Issues, 69, 235–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Stutzer, A. (2004). The role of income aspirations in individual happiness. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organizations, 54, 89–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Swanberg, J. E., Pitt-Catsouphes, M., & Drescher-Burke, K. (2005). A question of justice: Disparities in employees’ access to flexible schedule arrangements. Journal of Family Issues, 26, 866–895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Thomas, L. T., & Ganster, D. C. (1995). Impact of family-supportive work variables on work–family conflict and strain: A control perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 80, 6–15.Google Scholar
  84. Thompson, C. A., Beauvais, L. L., & Lyness, K. S. (1999). When work–family benefits are not enough: The influence of work–family culture on benefit utilization, organizational attachment, and work–family conflict. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 54, 392–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Voydanoff, P. (2005). Work demands and work-to-family and family-to-work conflict: Direct and indirect relationships. Journal of Family Issues, 26, 707–726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. West, C., & Zimmerman, D. H. (1987). Doing gender. Gender & Society, 1, 125–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. White, M., Hill, S., McGovern, P., Mills, C., & Smeaton, D. (2003). High performance management practices, working hours and work–life balance. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 41, 175–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Williams, J. C., Blair-Loy, M., & Berdahl, J. L. (2013). Cultural schemas, social class, and the flexibility stigma. Journal of Social Issues, 69, 209–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Winett, R., & Neale, M. (1981). Flexible work schedules and family time allocation: Assessment of a system change on individual behavior using self-report logs. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 14, 39–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Winslow, S. (2005). Work–family conflict, gender, and parenthood, 1977–1997. Journal of Family Issues, 26, 727–755.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Krista Lynn Minnotte
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael C. Minnotte
    • 2
  • Krista Thompson
    • 1
  1. 1.Sociology DepartmentUniversity of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA
  2. 2.Mathematics DepartmentUniversity of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA

Personalised recommendations