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Linking Job Work Hours to Women’s Physical Health: The Role of Perceived Unfairness and Household Work Hours


Although the relationship between job work hours and women’s physical health has been examined, limited empirical research examines the family demand conditions that explain this relationship. Given the challenge of integrating work and family demands, we examine the boundary conditions under which job hours relate to women’s physical health by integrating the influences of household work hours, perceived unfairness of division of household labor, and traditional gender ideology. Using a large, multi-national archival dataset, our results show that women working long job hours are more likely to report decreased physical health and that this relationship is moderated by the hours and fairness perceptions of household labor: The lowest physical health was observed at high job hours and high household hours and also when women felt that they did less than their fair share of household labor. However, looking at the slopes of these relationships, the negative relationship between job hours and physical health was stronger when women worked lower household hours or felt that they contributed less than their fair share of household labor—suggesting that maintaining a contribution to household labor might be important for working women. Furthermore, these results suggest that policy and organizational interventions aimed at supporting women’s physical health could take their household labor contributions and fairness perceptions into account when assessing the negative impact of high job work hours.

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Correspondence to Candice L. Thomas.

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This research was conducted using publicly available archival data and utilized a large, multinational sample. Therefore, the authors did not have contact with participants or have access to personally identifying information for the participants. In addition, we do not have any conflicts of interest. This paper has been specifically designed for submission to the Sex Roles and has hence not been submitted elsewhere.

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Thomas, C.L., Laguda, E., Olufemi-Ayoola, F. et al. Linking Job Work Hours to Women’s Physical Health: The Role of Perceived Unfairness and Household Work Hours. Sex Roles 79, 476–488 (2018).

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  • Work hours
  • Household labor
  • Division of household labor
  • Gender ideology
  • Physical health