NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 30, 2006

Women who combine work and family may be healthier than those who stay home, says the New York Times.

Researchers studied 1,171 women born in 1946, interviewing them in each decade from their 20s on to collect information about their health, work, marriage and children. They then had the women report their state of health at 54.

The results:

  • Women who had taken on multiple roles as mothers, wives and employees over those years were significantly healthier than those who had not.
  • Taking on extra roles was itself associated with good health; initial good health was not a predictor of taking on extra roles.

The authors acknowledged the difficulty of generalizing beyond the specific group of British women included in the study. Nevertheless, they concluded, "Our results suggest that good health is more likely to be the result, rather than the cause" of taking on work along with family and child-rearing obligations.

Source: Nicholas Bakalar, "Exploring Women's Health and Double Duty," New York Times, Tuesday May 23, 2006; based upon: Anne McMunn et al., "Life course social roles and women's health in mid-life: causation or selection?" Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2006.

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