Job quality and inequality: Parents’ jobs and children’s emotional and behavioural difficulties

Lyndall Strazdins, Megan SHIPLEY, Mark Clements, Lean O'BRIEN, Dorothy Broom

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59 Citations (Scopus)


In the context of high and rising rates of parental employment in Australia, we investigated whether poor quality jobs (without security, control, flexibility or paid family leave) could pose a health risk to employed parents’ children. We examined the extent to which both mothers’ and fathers’ jobs matter, and whether disadvantaged children are more vulnerable than others. Multiple regression modelling was used to analyse cross-sectional data for 2004 from the Growing Up in Australia study, a nationally representative sample of 4e5 year old children and their families (N ¼ 2373 employed mothers; 3026 employed fathers). Results revealed that when parents held poor quality jobs their children showed more emotional and behavioural difficulties. The associations with child difficulties were independent of income, parent education, family structure and work hours, and were evident for both mothers’ and fathers’ jobs. Further, the associations tended to be stronger for children in low-income households and lone-mother families. Thus job quality may be another mechanism underlying the intergenerational transmission of health inequality. Our findings also support the argument that a truly family-friendly job must not erode children’s health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2052-2060
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science Medicine Social Science Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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