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What Women Want: Employment Preference and Adjustment Among Mothers

Abstract

In this study of over 2000 mothers, we considered the alignment between employment preference and status, examining the well-being of mothers who were employed and wanting to work; employed because they need the money; not employed and not wanting work; and not employed but wanting to work. Alignment between employment preference and employment status was significantly associated with well-being, and mothers who stayed at home but wanted work had the most difficulties. Strong associations across multiple outcomes were found for emotional support variables, and costs of childcare was the most common reason for staying home even if employment was desired. Results suggest the importance of women’s self-agency in employment decisions, access to child-care, and emotional support in mothers’ lives.

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Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Masters and Doctoral students in Luthar’s prior lab at Teachers College, Columbia University, and funding by the National Institutes of Health (R01DA014385; R13MH082592). Sincere thanks also to all the mothers who participated in this study.

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Ciciolla, L., Curlee, A.S. & Luthar, S.S. What Women Want: Employment Preference and Adjustment Among Mothers. J Fam Econ Iss 38, 494–513 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-017-9534-7

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Keywords

  • Mothers
  • Employment
  • Psychological adjustment
  • Emotional support