Across Rich Nations, Disadvantaged Children Do Better When Work-Family Balance Is a Policy Priority
Andersson, Matthew A.
Garcia, Michael A.
University of Texas at Austin Population Research Center
Across wealthy nations, health disparities between children in rich and poor families have been well-documented. Work-family conflict is linked to declines in parental health and well-being, which in turn can deteriorate well-being throughout the family. While policy mandates that support reconciling conflicts between the demands of work and those of family, such as paid time off, cannot eliminate all the financial difficulties of economic disadvantage, they can quite possibly mitigate the impact of that disadvantage. State subsidization of childcare, in contrast, may lower family economic strain in the short-term, but do not impact parental working conditions or hours. Using data with young adolescents from 20 rich nations, Matthew A. Andersson, from Baylor University, together with PRC trainee Michael A. Garcia and PRC faculty research associate Jennifer Glass find that disparities in children’s health between disadvantaged and advantaged families are lessened significantly through work-family reconciliation policies while cash transfer policies are not associated with reducing disparities in children’s health. Generous work-family reconciliation policies “level the playing field” among working parents and reduce the negative impact of economic disadvantage on children’s health.