The Pro-family Workplace: Social and Economic Policies and Practices and Their Impacts on Child and Family Health

  • Lisa F. BerkmanEmail author
  • Emily M. O’Donnell
Part of the National Symposium on Family Issues book series (NSFI)


Social and economic policies designed to improve working conditions and employee well-being in adulthood have often resulted in the unintentional improvement of the health of children and their parents. Unfortunately, the USA is behind in implementing such policies and is losing ground in the health of its families compared to most other industrialized countries. We present historical patterns of infant mortality and women’s life expectancy, both indicators of child and family health, over time and across the USA and other industrialized countries. Using a predominantly ecosocial framework, we review the channels or mechanisms that may link social or economic policy to a physiological change in children and/or their close family members. We continue to review a range of family and labor policies and evidence linking specific family and work policies to child and family health outcomes. We argue that, despite challenges, the identification of social and economic policies that impact the work/family interface and promote family health and well-being is critical and that the conditions which improve health for families will likely require modification in the public policy arena.


Infant Mortality OECD Country Parental Leave Childhood Poverty Maternal Employment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was conducted as part of the Work, Family, and Health Network, which is funded by a cooperative agreement through the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant U01HD051217, U01HD051218, U01HD051256, U01HD051276), National Institute on Aging (Grant U01AG027669), Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Grant U010H008788).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard Center for Population and Development StudiesCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Harvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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