Maternal work outside the home and its effect on women and their families.

J. A. Rosenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Up to 65% of American women work outside the home in paid employment, thus it is essential to examine the effect of that employment on the health of both women and their families. Employed women of all ages and occupations have a lower mortality rate and better reported and perceived health than women who do not work outside the home. The incidence of cardiovascular disease in women has not increased because of their increased participation in the work force. For hypertension, for psychological health, and for the incidence of coronary heart disease, women's emotional response to work is more important in predicting ill health than work itself. Working does not worsen women's health during pregnancy, and perinatal outcome may be improved for employed mothers. Middle-aged women who work have better measures of psychological and physical well-being. Employment seems to ahve a beneficial effect on the woman's family as well; more employed women confide in their husbands and report helpful or supportive responses from them. Multiple studies found no difference in many psychological and educational characteristics between children of working and nonworking mothers. One difference discovered was that children of working mothers are less likely to believe in "traditional" sex roles. There is no age group for which the employment of the mother is harmful, and at many ages if employment resulted in better maternal well-being, there is a definite gain for the children. More important than work itself is the mother's satisfaction with work, child care arrangements, and the home situation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-53
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Medical Women's Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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