The Journal of Primary Prevention

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 53–73 | Cite as

Parents’ Nonstandard Work Schedules and Child Well-Being: A Critical Review of the Literature

  • Jianghong LiEmail author
  • Sarah E. Johnson
  • Wen-Jui Han
  • Sonia Andrews
  • Garth Kendall
  • Lyndall Strazdins
  • Alfred Dockery
Literature Review


This paper provides a comprehensive review of empirical evidence linking parental nonstandard work schedules to four main child developmental outcomes: internalizing and externalizing problems, cognitive development, and body mass index. We evaluated the studies based on theory and methodological rigor (longitudinal data, representative samples, consideration of selection and information bias, confounders, moderators, and mediators). Of 23 studies published between 1980 and 2012 that met the selection criteria, 21 reported significant associations between nonstandard work schedules and an adverse child developmental outcome. The associations were partially mediated through parental depressive symptoms, low quality parenting, reduced parent–child interaction and closeness, and a less supportive home environment. These associations were more pronounced in disadvantaged families and when parents worked such schedules full time. We discuss the nuance, strengths, and limitations of the existing studies, and propose recommendations for future research.


Child mental health Child obesity Cognitive development Nonstandard work schedules Parental employment Shift work 

Supplementary material

10935_2013_318_MOESM1_ESM.doc (132 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 132 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jianghong Li
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Sarah E. Johnson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wen-Jui Han
    • 4
  • Sonia Andrews
    • 5
  • Garth Kendall
    • 2
    • 6
  • Lyndall Strazdins
    • 7
  • Alfred Dockery
    • 5
  1. 1.Centre for Population Health Research, Faculty of Health SciencesCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  2. 2.Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health ResearchThe University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  3. 3.Social Science Research Center BerlinBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Silver School of Social WorkNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Curtin Business SchoolCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  6. 6.School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health SciencesCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  7. 7.National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, College of Medicine, Biology & Environment, Building 62, M BlockThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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