Maternal Labor Force Participation and Child Well-Being in Public Assistance Families

Mary Secret, Claudia Peck-Heath

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study investigated the relationship between maternal labor force participation and the general health and school performance of school-age children in public assistance families. Data were obtained from face-to-face interviews with 97 mothers drawn from a random sample of public assistance recipients in one community. Using a measure of maternal labor force participation over the course of several years, logistic regression analysis revealed positive, but complex, relationships. Children whose mothers had recent, current, or long-term employment were in better health than children whose mothers had been unemployed for more than 2 years. Children's school performance was positively associated with either long-term unemployment or long-term employment, suggesting that the stability of maternal labor force participation, rather than work status per se, was an important factor. The study maintains a needed focus on child outcomes and provides an important conceptualization of maternal labor force participation for use in future welfare reform studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)520-541
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2004


  • Child well-being
  • Child well-being and welfare
  • Maternal employment and child well-being
  • Maternal employment and welfare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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