Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 83–94 | Cite as

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

  • Margaret L. Usdansky
  • Rachel A. Gordon
  • Xue Wang
  • Anna Gluzman
Original Paper


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 preferences Job quality Maternal depression Maternal employment 



The authors would like to acknowledge helpful comments of members of the sociology department of the University of Illinois at Chicago.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret L. Usdansky
    • 1
  • Rachel A. Gordon
    • 2
  • Xue Wang
    • 3
  • Anna Gluzman
    • 4
  1. 1.Center for Policy ResearchSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sociology and Institute of Government and Public AffairsUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Department of SociologyCalifornia State UniversityLong BeachUSA

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